WB governor seeks report on clashes in Birbhum

WB governor seeks report on clashes in Birbhum

West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi has sought a report from the state police on the recent violence that broke out in Birbhum, where a woman was sexually harassed and assaulted by cops and Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers.

Although Tripathi has made no official statement, sources in Raj Bhavan confirmed the development. “A report has been sought from the director-general of state police and the district’s superintendent of police. The governor may also consult the state home secretary and issue a statement once he receives the reports.”

The latest incident of violence is one among several that have taken place in the district since last year’s Lok Sabha elections, which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) making inroads and the TMC emerging victorious in the state. The BJP has added the Birbhum episode to its long list of points to buttress its claims of the poor law and order situation under the TMC government.

Samik Bhattacharya, the BJP’s only legislator in the state, led a delegation of party workers to Parui, which has been the epicenter of violence in the district. The MLA took stock of the situation and met the family of the woman who was purportedly sexually assaulted. “This was a joint operation of the district police and Trinamool workers. They assaulted her and even sexually harassed her. She is in hospital in a critical condition,” Bhattacharya asserted.

According to BJP leaders and the woman’s family, a group of men, including some policemen, forced their way into her father’s house at Burdwan late on Saturday and started questioning her about her nephew, who is a BJP activist in Parui. “They slashed her hands with a blade, broke all her fingers and rubbed nettle leaves all over her wounds to make her talk. Even after she started screaming, when they were rubbing the itchy nettle leaves into her private parts, they didn’t stop. The torture went on for almost an hour,” Bhattacharya said, recounting the statement of the woman’s husband.

While Birbhum’s Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria was unavailable for comment, sources in the state police said the home department has initiated disciplinary action against three police officers, who were present and participated in the woman’s torture. “The police department wants to know from the three officers and other policemen present as to how they defied their jurisdiction and went to another district to question someone without permission from their superiors,” a senior official said. Although a formal complaint is yet to be lodged, Rajoria has suo motu initiated a case, sources added.

Such incidents of violence in Birbhum had become particularly sporadic in the last two months of 2014, forcing the state administration to impose a curfew.