West Bengal – APDR note on alleged rape of adivasi woman by CRPF

February 7, 2013

Note received from Arup Dasgupta (APDR-Midnapore)

After the gang rape of eleven tribal women at Sonamukhi in 2010 and Sibani Singh in 2011, it is now the turn of Subhadra Mahato of village Oraly under Banspahari Gram Panchayat, Belpahari thana.The CRPF jawans gang-raped her sometime during the Makar Sankranti festival this year when she along with her friend Sarathi Mahato had gone near the forest to collect Sal leaves. While Sarathi managed to escape, Subhadra was caught and raped.

Subhadra is an ICDS worker,who is at present lying in a state of trauma at her father’s house. Her elder brother Prafulla Mahato is too scared to lodge a protest against the police. So are villagers,especially the women who say they are also frightened to go inside the forest to collect leaves, which are vital source of their livelihood.

After the incident the villagers demonstrated before the Chhurimara CRPF camp, demanding the arrest of the culprits. The SP Jhargram rushed to the spot and assured them that it was a small matter and it was the act of some miscreants who have taken shelter in the adjoining areas from Jharkhand. The villagers must carry lathis and torches, and they must be vigilant against these elements.

APDR and a few women’s organisations from Kolkata and Jhargram visited the village on 3.2 13 for fact- finding. Although almost everyone admitted to the occurence, the victim was too traumatised to appear. The fact-finding team found that instead of executing the most essential matters , the SP is scrupulously trying to shield the real culprits and hoodwink the the aggrieved family.
1. The Police has not accepted any complaint from the victim or her family.
2.The Police did not put the victim through medical test.
3.The Police did not arrest the culprits and put them up at a fast track court for speedy trial.

A fear psychosis is palpable on the faces of the villagers. In this fur-flung village of Jungal Mahal there are no candle light processions for the rape victims and no vociferous protests. Women like Subhadra and Sarathi never dream of seeing their perpetrators punished. The matter needs thorough probe.