Battered and shamed at hooch kangaroo court
Tamluk, April 18: A CPI activist associated with an anti-hooch campaign in East Midnapore drank pesticide after she was beaten up in front of her teenaged son by alleged Trinamul workers who apparently tried to rape her on Sunday night for refusing to pay a "fine" of Rs 50,000.
The woman, who is admitted at Contai sub-divisional hospital, said some Trinamul workers came to her house on Sunday evening and summoned her to a kangaroo court for leading the campaign that destroyed around five hooch dens in Kanaidighi and neighbouring villages through January.
"I went to the Shalishi meeting at 9pm with my 14-year-old son. My mother-in-law and my 18-year-old daughter stayed at home. Around 50 people were there, of whom more than 20 were Trinamul leaders and workers. They demanded Rs 50,000 as fine for leading the anti-hooch campaign in January. The Trinamul leaders said I had to pay the price for destroying the hooch dens," the woman said.
She, however, could not confirm if the Trinamul workers were in any way involved with the hooch dens.
The woman is not the only one in her family to have faced reprisal by the Trinamul workers.
The homemaker's husband, also a CPI supporter and a small-time businessman, fled to Cuttack in February after being beaten up by some Trinamul activists when one of their colleagues was shot in another village, the woman said. The husband's name was, however, not mentioned in the FIR filed after the firing.
Her 20-year-old elder son, she said, also left home on Saturday when some Trinamul workers came to her house allegedly looking for him after he picked up a fight with some villagers over a game of carrom on Poila Baishakh (April 14).
"The Trinamul leaders also asked me to bring back my husband and elder son to the village within 24 hours so that they can switch over to their party and walk in their processions. They demanded an undertaking declaring that I would pay them Rs 50,000 and bring back my husband and son soon," she added.
On refusing to follow the orders, the party workers started beating her up, the woman said, adding that villagers had started to thin out by then.
"Two of them caught my arms and made me stand, while another pulled the sari off me. They threatened me with dire consequences if I did not give the undertaking. When I refused again, two of them pushed me to the ground and jumped on me. They molested me and then tried to rape me. My son was crying and begging them not to hurt me. But they did not listen. I lost consciousness," she said.
The homemaker's son, in his complaint, has said that when the attackers found the woman had fainted, they fled.
"Others, too, fled the scene. I went up to my mother and sprinkled water on her from a bottle left behind some villagers. She regained her senses, draped the sari around her and walked home with me, crying all the way," the boy said.
A Trinamul leader in East Midnapore denied any kangaroo court had been organised, saying that the suicide attempt was the fallout of family problems.
"Trinamul Congress is not involved in the incident. There was no Shalishi meeting held. The woman took poison following some family problems. This is a conspiracy by Left parties to malign Trinamul," said Trinamul general secretary in East Midnapore Mahmud Hossain.
The duo returned home around 3am on Monday, the woman said. She wanted to commit suicide, unable to bear the insult in front of her son, she added.
"I was full of shame and decided to commit suicide. Around 4am, I went to the bathroom with a bottle of pesticide and drank it. But I soon came out as I fell ill and started screaming from pain," she said.
Hearing her scream, the son and daughter woke up and alerted neighbours who took her to the hospital where she regained consciousness more than 24 hours later, police said.
"We have registered an FIR against 21 persons on the basis of a complaint lodged by the victim's son. The sub-divisional officer of Contai, Indrajit Basu, will conduct a separate inquiry and submit a report," district superintendent of police S.K. Jain said.
All the accused have fled the village, an officer said.