Tribal girl gang-raped by members of kangaroo court as punishment for affair
Suri – A 20-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by at least 10 members of a kangaroo court in a Birbhum village on Monday night as punishment for having an affair with a youth from another community. She is in critical condition after the assault and is clinging to life in spite of the rapists stopping her from reaching a hospital.
All 13 accused – including the village headman – have been arrested for rape. The girl’s boyfriend has also been arrested.
TOI spoke to the girl in Suri Hospital on Wednesday evening. Although in severe pain, she feebly said: “I had an affair with a man. We were dragged to a gathering where our community-headman was present. They told me to pay Rs 50,000. When I said I couldn’t, they brutalized me.” A doctor said she was alive “only because she is a tough tribal girl”.
Her mother said: “The crime was committed by our own people. They tortured my daughter and dumped her home late at night. We were threatened not to go to police. We tried to go to Bolpur hospital but they stopped us.”
Sources say the girl was raped in a village in Labhpur police station area, about 60km from Tagore’s Santiniketan. Her lover is from Chowhatta village. On Monday afternoon, a group of tribal men found her sitting with the man and dragged both of them to the village ‘than’ (a religious place). A kangaroo court was hastily assembled under the tribal chieftain. The youth was asked to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 and warned that if he didn’t pay up, village youths “would have fun with the girl”, said a police officer.
On Monday night, the girl was forced into a shed and raped till Tuesday morning.
The rapists forced the family to stay indoors all of Tuesday. Bleeding from severe injuries, the girl somehow survived. Late Wednesday afternoon, the family slipped out and took her to Labhpur health centre, where the doctors advised she be taken immediately to Bolpur subdivisional hospital.
From Bolpur she was shifted to Suri hospital in a very critical condition at night. That is when the crime came to light. Additional SP Prashanta Chowdhury said the woman was gang-raped. “Details are yet to be investigated,” he said.
This area had been in the news around four years ago when a teenage tribal girl was stripped and forced to walk naked through four villages for having an affair. Hundreds of villagers molested her and mocked her all the way. They took cellphone videos of her, which exposed the incident four months later. The girl got a bravery award from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and is now in a state-run welfare home.