The country has already witnessed the magnitude of public protest and anger after the Delhi gang rape incident. And now, Raniganj near Durgapur saw an unprecedented public anger after the rape of a class VI girl.
The girl – a resident of East College Para locality of Raniganj was allegedly dragged by two youths to the nearby Sastigoria Park while she was returning from her school, Basanti Devi Vidyalaya, on Monday at around 2 pm. The two local youths, who are well known Trinamool supporters, raped the girl and left her bruised and unconscious. The
locals and some policemen seeing the girl lying unconscious took the girl to her house.
The father and the relatives of the girl went to the local police station in the evening on the same day. But policemen of the police station declined to lodge an FIR naming the two Trinamool supporters. The family of the victim reported that Khurshid Alam, a close aide of local Trinamool Congress MLA, Sohrab Ali was trying to influence the policemen of the police station not to register complaint against the two accused Trinamool supporters.
After that, locals staged a road block on NH 60 near Tarbangla More of Raniganj. At around 10 pm on Monday, police arrested the two accused, identified as Rajat Khan and Kaliya Sheikh. But the locals declined to lift the road blockade as they were demanding assurance of stern action against the accused immediately.
However the police managed to lift the blockade after resorting to mild lathicharge at around 2 am yesterday.
However, when the school opened yesterday, locals and the girl’s family along with those of other students staged another road block in front of the Marwari Sanatan School and the local police station, alleging that female students in schools across Raniganj were not safe. Thay demanded that the two youths be handed over to them or be given exemplary punishment. They also protested against alleged police inaction.
Police initially tried to negotiate with the agitators to call off the stir; when their efforts failed, they resorted to lathi-charge, which set the mob on a rampage spree.
Aggrieved locals ransacked two police jeeps and one motorbike of the local police station and set them on fire at 11.30 am yesterday. Nearly 80 vehicles stranded on the road also were ransacked, as were a few roadside stalls. A Trinamool party office in the locality where the raped girl hails from has also been set into fire by locals.
Additional forces from Asansol and Durgapur were moved to Raniganj. The Commissioner of Police of Asansol-Durgapur, Mr Ajay Nand, also rushed to the spot following the incident.
Mr. Nand, suspected foul play. “The FIR was registered and the accused were taken into custody on Monday night itself. It was ridiculous to see further uproar on Tuesday. We suspect it was pre-planned,” he said. The commissioner also reported that the girl had underwent medical tests during the day.
The Trinamool Congress, meanwhile, has accused the CPI-M of masterminding the pandemonium. Mr Sohrab Ali, MLA, Raniganj, said, “Soon after the chairman of the Raniganj Municipality, Mr Anup Mitra, visited the victim’s house yesterday, the road block was staged.”
He expressed surprise at the presence of a school headmaster in the agitation. “It was astonishing to note that the former chairman of the civic body, Mr Runu Dutta, who is also the headmaster of a school, had organised the road block. The role of the councillor of ward number 6, Mr Vijay Singh, was also suspicious,” he said.
However, CPI-M leader and chairman of the civic body, Mr Anup Mitra, dismissed the allegation. “We didn’t have any role in today’s chaos. It was public outcry. Lapses on part of the police and the administration precipitated the crisis,” he said.
Asansol-Durgapur police commissioner, Ajay Kumar Nand also dismissed charges that the police declined to take FIR initially.
Police later arrested 13 persons on charges of attacking policemen and ransacking police vehicles. One contingent of RAF has been pressed into service to maintain surveillance in the area.