The family of a 16-year-old from West Bengal who was gang-raped twice in October and died after being set on fire allegedly by men known to the rapists have alleged that they were threatened by the police and asked to “forget the case.”
“The police threatened me and said forget the case or you won’t be able to drive your taxi. The public are supporting us but not the state government,” said the teen’s father in Delhi, where the family met President Pranab Mukherjee. He claimed that attempts were being made to send his family to Bihar.
The teenager, who died of serious burns at a hospital in Kolkata on December 31, was gang-raped in the town of Madhyamgram, a 90-minute drive from Kolkata, on two consecutive days in October allegedly by the same group of six men. All six have been arrested.
Hours before their meeting with the President, the girl’s family went to the National Commission for Women (NCW) whose chairman Mamata Sharma said, “The police should have given them protection after the first rape complaint. We will investigate.”
In her dying statement to investigating officers, the girl had said that two men had poured kerosene and set her afire on December 23. The men were arrested the next day, but the police disclosed her statement only on January 2.
The admission by the police placed Mamata Banerjee’s government in a new controversy, not only because of the teen’s horrific ordeal, but because of an ugly attempt by the police to force a cremation for her sooner than her family wanted – an attempt, the opposition Left says, to bury the truth that the girl, twice sexually assaulted, was given no security, which led to her murder.
The girl’s father, a taxi driver originally from Bihar, is a loyalist of the Left’s trade union, CITU, which wanted to organise a public funeral procession. In a grotesque attempt to prevent that, police tried to hijack the body and organize a hasty cremation. The girl’s father however avoided that by refusing to hand over her death certificate. Her last rites took place on January 1 after much chaos at the cremation ground.