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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Child killed in rape-case tamper bid


Child killed in rape-case tamper bid

MEHEDI HEDAYTULLAH
Bikram, the 18-month-old toddler whose body was found
March 27: A child no more than 18 months old and missing for over a fortnight was today found dead in a cornfield in Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.
The murder of one boy is not expected to kick up too much dust in a country inured to mindless violence.
But the death of Bikram Roy has raised too many questions to be dismissed as just another instance of senseless killing.
The child’s aunt (his father’s sister) was allegedly raped by a group in November. The charge has not been proved yet and the trial is still going on.
A group of nine, including the six rape accused, had gone to the house of the alleged victim on March 11 and asked the family to withdraw the sexual assault case.
When the family refused, a brawl broke out and the child was allegedly taken away by the group.
The following day, Ganesh Roy, the father of the abducted boy, went to the police station to lodge a complaint. The father was arrested and kept in the lock-up because the police had by then received a complaint from the group of nine that he had assaulted them the day before.
Then, the enforcers of law let the law take its course.
Fifteen days later — this afternoon — the body of the boy was found.
The seemingly incredible sequence of events, collated on the basis of the accounts of relatives of the slain toddler and police sources, unfolded in North Dinajpur’s Goalpokhar, 470km from Calcutta and very much within the jurisdiction of Bengal police and Writers’ Buildings.
The roots of the tragedy appear to lie in a perception that complainants can be arm-twisted to withdraw charges despite the widespread uproar over the Park Street and Katwa rape cases.
Among the nine who went to the Roys’ home on March 11 — the day the child was reported missing — was Hemanta Roy, one of the rape accused whom the police consider an absconder. Another member of the group was Paras Roy, the only person arrested in the rape case and then granted bail.
An accused in a rape case is not expected to contact or go anywhere near the house of the complainant.
That Hemanta came face to face with the Roys is not disputed. Firoze Ahmed, the lawyer who is representing Hemanta Roy in the rape case, said today: “The rape charge against my client is false. I heard there was a fight. My client had contacted me after the clash and told me how he was beaten up. But after that, I have no news of him. The kidnapping charges against him have been made up.”
The lawyer said he did not know why Hemanta, despite being declared absconding by the police, approached the Roys. The relatives of the Roys say the alleged rapists had been pressuring Ganesh to persuade his sister to withdraw the charges.
Ganesh’s sister had complained of the gangrape in November and the case had come up for hearing recently.
Paras, the only accused arrested in the rape case, was admitted to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital after he was allegedly beaten up by Ganesh. He is there still.
The Goalpokhar police have charged Ganesh with causing grievous injury to Paras during the brawl that preceded the disappearance of the child.
The police eventually accepted the kidnapping complaint from Ganesh’s wife, Pramila Roy, after she went to the police station with other villagers. She also approached Islampur subdivisional officer Samanjit Sengupta and wrote to the West Bengal Human Rights Commission pleading for Bikram’s safe return.
Pramila had earlier alleged that the kidnappers had the backing of some Congress supporters. Local Congress MLA Gulam Rabbani had denied the charges. Goalpokhar falls under the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi.
The police later told Pramila that they had tracked down the toddler in Bihar. On Tuesday, Paras’s father and grandfather, whose name was not mentioned in the kidnap complaint, were arrested, probably to douse local tempers. The grandfather was granted bail.
Today, the police took Pramila to the cornfield, where she saw the child’s body and fell unconscious. The police said the child had been strangled and the body buried to get rid of evidence.
“Had the police acted immediately, the baby could have been found unharmed. Instead, when the father went to complain that his son had been forcibly taken away, the police arrested him,” said Jayanta Roy, a relative of Pramila.
The boy’s father, Ganesh, is still in Islampur jail. His case came up for hearing today but the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court did not grant him bail as the police failed to produce the case diary. He was sent to 14 more days in judicial custody.