Kolkata is seething with a sense of anger and frustration. Once again, perverted men with scant respect for the law gangraped, brutally battered and then threw the blood-smeared victim out of a moving car. The crime is the same, only the venue has now shifted to the city’s tech hub.
The Park Street case of February 2012 now makes way for the Salt Lake Sector V case.
The victim, a 25-year-old singer at a bar near the airport, was headed to a café in the heart of Sector V after work. New to the city, she got out of the app-cab she had taken a ride on and was seeking directions when a man noticed her. He pointed her in the wrong direction and made a quick call on his cellphone. A few minutes later, a car pulled up and the victim was forcibly dragged in by four men outside the Unitech Building. Three hours later she was thrown out on the road where a taxi driver saw her and informed the police.
It is to his credit that the Bidhannagar Commissioner of Police Jawed Shamim ensured that three of the four accused, car pool drivers who ferry IT employees, were arrested and the vehicle seized within 24 hours of the crime.
The police was helped by the footage from several CCTV cameras installed outside some buildings in Sector V.
The sheer impunity with which ghastly crimes get replicated in Bengal is shocking.
When you commit a crime in a gang often the fear reduces because each one eggs the other on. It is almost a mini mob kind of mentality. Often men commit crimes in gangs as the burden of guilt is not just one person’s.Psychiatrist Dr J R Ram
TMC Government’s Lackadaisical Attitude
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has so far refrained from making a comment even 48 hours after the ghastly incident.
In the Park Street case where Suzette Jordan was gangraped in a moving car, three of the rapists were arrested ten days after the FIR was filed by the victim. The accused were convicted only in December 2015 despite a fast track court. It is horrific that the main accused is one of the two who is still absconding. It is well known that he has the protection of a powerful member of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Is it the mindset of the rapists or is it the attitude of the government which is even more responsible for the increasing crimes against women?
There is a gap between popular sovereignty and rule of law. There is this increasing tendency to believe that since I have been elected by the people, so I do not need to follow the law. I am above the law. I am the law. If this happens, there will be grave danger for democracy. When the administration is in denial mode or makes insensitive comments, that is akin to complicity. If a prime accused is still absconding, that is complicity.Maidul Islam from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences
Crimes Against Women on a Rise in Bengal
It is this attitude of the government that empowers criminals. In the Park Street case, the competent lady police officer, Damayanti Sen, who confirmed that it was a case of rape despite Mamata’s attempt to dismiss it as a “fabricated incident”, was transferred.
When the leadership sends down such signals, can anyone ensure safety for women in a state which probably worships more female goddesses than any other. It is ironic. According to the 2014 National Crime Records Bureau data, West Bengal has the highest incidence of rape by ‘unknown persons’ (as opposed to cases of incest and rape by known people).
Crimes against women are becoming a daily feature. We need more rigorous policing on the roads. No matter what you do, nothing seems to change. It is very frustrating. Rapists feel they can get away with it.Anu Kapoor of Swayam, a women’s rights organisation
The problem needs to be
addressed on a war footing. Not only a massive mindset change but swift
dispensation of justice too is needed.
A security guard, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who raped and murdered a 14-year-old-schoolgirl in Kolkata, was hanged in 2004, almost a decade-and-a-half after he committed the crime.
Oindrilla Dutt, arts curator and writer says, “I believe rape should be punishable by something as extreme as stoning to death. If we ever have a common civil code, these are the sort of punishments we should adopt from Sharia laws.”
Will this unbridled depravity leave us with no choice but to go back to the dark ages? Or will the state’s chief minister with her recent mammoth mandate finally break her silence and show the state she means business?
(The writer is a Kolkata-based senior journalist)