At a time when incidents of rape, molestation are of daily occurrence in the state, a shocking story of a minor being abducted and forced into marriage and physical relation by an active Trinamool Congress worker rocked the industrial town of Durgapur. Involvement of the local Trinamool councillor in pressurizing the girl and her family to settle the matter with the youth has drawn criticsm from all corners.
A 14-year-old girl in Durgapur was allegedly abducted from her home by a Trinamool worker on 17th April ’13, who married her at the Ghagarburi Temple in Asansol after bribing the priest to perform the rituals. From there, the girl was taken to Lohar’s elder sister’s in-laws’ home in Purulia town and forced into physical relationship.
The accused Trinamool worker, 20-year-old Sukanta Lohar, is a resident of Durgapur Steel Township’s C-Zone Main Shantipath.
The girl’s mother tried to lodge a complaint of kidnap against the well known Trinamool worker but police allegedly registered a missing persons’ diary. The girl’s father, who works as a security guard at a housing complex in Delhi, returned from his workplace immediately after hearing the matter. After failing to file a kidnap complaint at the B-Zone police outpost, the girl’s father moved to the court and lodged a kidnapping case against Lohar and his relatives on April 25.
The police produced the girl, who is a Class VII student, in court on May 2, following a court directive and handed the minor girl to her father.
The girl’s family members alleged that for the past one-and-a-half months, local Trinamool workers and some policemen had been threatening them with dire consequences if the case was not withdrawn. On Friday, the girl’s elder brother was allegedly beaten up by Trinamool workers.
“The police told me I would not be able to continue with the case for long given my financial constraints. They told me to withdraw the case. The local Trinamool workers threatened to drive us out of the town,” the father of the girl said.
The girl’s parents yesterday lodged a complaint with the sub-divisional officer of Durgapur, Kasturi Sengupta. SDO Sengupta said she had received the complaint, adding that she had spoken to the girl as well. The girl has demanded punishment for Sukanta Lohar and refused to accept the temple wedding.
A lawyer in the Durgapur court said the marriage was illegal as the girl was a minor. “Besides, marriage registration is compulsory now,” he added.
The Trinamool councillor of ward number 5 of Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Krishnendu Acharya, called the girl and Lohar, to his office on April 21 after the girl’s mother approached the police. The girl’s family alleged that the councillor tried to persuade them to settle the matter amicably with the youth.
But the girl’s father moved to court. Even after the girl was handed over to her family by police following a court order; the councillor again met the family to pressurize them from withdrawing complaint against Lohar, the alleged Trinamool activist.
“The Trinamool councillor told me that my parents were poor and nobody would marry me after what had happened. He advised me to accept the marriage. But I refused and said I wanted to study,” the girl said yesterday.
Trinamool councillor Acharya admitted that he had called the girl and the youth to his office for discussions but denied that he had put any pressure on the girl’s father to withdraw the complaint.
“As the local councillor, I wanted to hear about the allegations from the family. That is why I had called them. I never tried to pressure the girl’s father to withdraw his complaint,” he said.
Asked why Lohar had not been arrested even though the court had ordered so, the police said the accused was absconding.
The additional deputy commissioner of police (east), Sunil Yadav, said he would look into the allegations.