The brutal deaths of two teenage girls in separate incidents in West Bengal have led to massive protests in the state. One of the victim girls was from Kaliaganj in West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district. Locals found the 17-year-old girl’s body floating in a canal on April 21. The Police have arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the incident on April 22. In another incident, a 15-year-old girl was found dead in West Bengal’s Malda district on April 25. The body of the Class-10 student was found in a field at Ujirpur village in Akandaberia, located within the Kaliachak police station limits.
While the BJP has been using such incidents to communally polarize the state, the civil society, human right and women activists, have strongly condemned the role of the police and handling of such incidents by the insensitive state government. The frequent occurrence of such incidents in the state and attempts by the administration and the ruling party to deny and cover-up such cases of atrocities on women raise serious questions on safety of women, the law-and-order situation and the conduct of the police and administration in the state.
Feminists in Resistance (FIR), a feminist group based in Kolkata, released a statement condemning the savage, abominable and shameful conduct of West Bengal Police towards the dead female bodies and expressed its disquiet at the brutal modus operandi that the State of West Bengal has adopted to tackle the public resentment and protests against the two incidents in Malda district.
Here is the full statement by FIR.
Condemn savage, abominable & shameful conduct of West Bengal Police towards the dead female bodies and repeated denial of violence on women by the State
Feminists in Resistance (FIR), a feminist group based in Kolkata, is in excruciating pain and expresses its disquiet at the brutal modus operandi that the State of West Bengal has adopted to tackle the public resentment failing in protecting its daughters.
Deaths of two teenage (17 & 15) minor girls, in a span of 4 days, in Kaliaganj of North Dinajpur and in Kaliachauk in Malda District on 22nd and 25th of this month, have led to public fury and agitation. Both the girls went missing a day before the corpse was found in a canal and agricultural farm, respectively. Missing person complaint to this respect was also registered with the local police station.
In Kaliaganj of North Dinajpur, aggrieved Rajbanshi, the angry Adivasi Community to which the girl belonged gathered around the corpse and were agitating against the inaction on the part of local police. In order to take possession of the corpse for further forensic investigations and post – mortem, unanticipatedly two policemen were seen running while dragging the corpse of 17-year-old by arms, with heels touching the ground and clothes falling around. Another two police men were seen running after. This highly unsettling visual of 22nd April was played the whole day on local Television channels on 24th April and disgusting talk shows were conducted all through the day that played with viewers’ emotion. Communal card too was played as the girl was befriended with a boy of different community. Irked public attacked and burnt the Kaliaganj PS the next day.
In Kaliachauk of Malda, with the experience of Kaliaganj, the moment police of Kaliachauk found the body of 15-year-old in the field closer to her house, it put the corpse on a while sheet and four policemen, holding four corners of the sheet, walked away with corpse, thereby not following any protocol to the extent of not informing family, identification, panchnama, securing the place for forensic investigation etc.
As a feminist group, we of Feminists in Resistance, are also concerned with the pattern that the state has evolved to deal with such incidents of brutal violence on women. Firstly, it belittles such violence by saying scattered incident, not happen in West Bengal, look at Unnao, Hathras, look at Gujrat, look at Bilkis Bano. Secondly, if the victim is a teenager, like in the said incidents it tries to search some love- angle and question the women’s character, to the extent that the Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee too on the pretext of not divulging the facts plays such a blame game. And lastly, and most dangerously, the access to the grieving family is definitely denied. A Police outpost will be posted in front of the grieving family’s house and all their movements will be monitored.
Above pattern is followed in Hanskhali, where a 14-year-old was raped and murdered, Tuhina Khatun of Burdwan who was violently harassed and most recently in Tiljala of Kolkata where a 7-year-old girl child was brutally tortured, raped and murdered a month back. FIR team has experienced the methodology in which the grieving family at Tiljala was stopped to talk to FIR members.
As feminist, women’s rights and democratic rights group we demand:
- a) Speedy and thorough impartial investigation and adjudication.
- b) Instead of justifying brutal savage and shameful action of police, take action. Punish the erring officials and sensitize others frequently in a regular manner.
- c) A death is death and rape is rape, take action and stop blaming the victim.
- d) Install a proactive Child Rights Commission and Women Commission in the State.