Justice for tribal young woman brutally raped in Kusmandi, West Bengal
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We as citizens of the State of West Bengal are appalled at the condition of women in the State. You must be well aware that on 18th February, 2018, a most horrible and cruel gang-rape took place in Dehabandha village under Kushmandi Police Station in South Dinajpur district. Because no further information was available in the media, on 24th February, some individual activists, went to this area to do a fact-finding.
We spoke with more than 50 people in this area. From these conversations, we came to know some important facts. The survivor is an Adivasi woman. The woman was probably around 19/20 years old. She had lost her mother when she was very young. Around the age of ten, she was taken to Uttar Pradesh. There she apparently had a husband and gave birth to two children. However, she became a victim of domestic violence and was found badly beaten up and abandoned in Delhi where a kind-hearted doctor nursed her back to health. Last year he brought her to her village.
The unfortunate young woman found that in the meantime, her father had died, her hut had collapsed, and the family land (around 12 bighas) had been taken over. Media reports called her "mentally challenged", villagers informed us that she had depression and preferred to remain alone and aloof. Her mental health conditions are not clear to any of us. With nothing left for her to fall back on, she started sleeping in the local Shivmandir. From here, on 17th Feb Ramprabesh Sharma, alias Nyangra, and three other men stuffed cloth into her mouth and carried her off to a deserted space near the river, Srimati.
Led by Nyangra, the four men took turns in raping and later torturing her by inserting rods and other objects into her vagina until her uterus ruptured and at least eight feet of her intestine spilled out of her body. She was discovered by some villagers almost 17 hours after this horrific torture under a bundle of cloths. The police arrived around 4.30 pm. Incredibly, the brave young woman was conscious and lucid as she clearly identified the men responsible in front of people assembled there. Nyangra was one of those who had taken control over her land.
We came to know that she was under treatment in the Malda Hospital. However, no further facts were available. Nyangra and one other person have been arrested. Two are absconding. The local people are very very angry. They asked for our support. They also told us that gang rape of young women, especially adivasi women had become common place, and the perpetrators were all loitering about with impunity. They want this to stop. They want justice. They want safety.
We raise our voices with theirs. We demand:
1. A fair investigation into the entire incident by the National Human Rights Commission.
2. Provision for the best medical treatment for this young woman. We demand a public medical bulletin on a daily basis.
3. Ensure protection relating to Tribal’s Land as provided under West Bengal Land Reforms Act 1956 and other relevant Acts. Immediate step needs to be taken so that the victim can get back her land.
4. The long-term safety and security of this woman. We demand measures to ensure that she has access to the money given in her bank account by the Government. She does not have any ID proof.
1. Justice for the young woman. We demand that the police Investigation be conducted swiftly and completed within two months, and the case be heard and the guilty punished within six months in the fast-track courts.
2. The State to take appropriate steps to prevent exploitation of vulnerable sections of the society, especially women.
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