A 21-year-old shopping mall employee was allegedly gangraped by five-six men and abandoned near Babughat Sunday night. One of the accused, identified as Mohammad Hamid alias Raja, was arrested late Monday.
The incident puts a question mark on women’s safety under the Trinamool Congress government that has been rocked by similar crimes in the last two years, the most recent being of a 16-year-old girl being gangraped twice and set on fire by the aides of the rape accused in Madhyamgram.
In Sunday’s incident, the woman is reportedly in a serious condition and has been shifted to Belle Vue clinic from Howrah government hospital on Monday.
The woman, who is from Kulgachhia in Howrah, is said to have left South City Mall on Prince Anwar Shah Road, around 9.30 pm Sunday.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) P K Ghosh said she boarded a taxi with some of her friends who got off at Park Circus while she disembarked at Kidderpore to catch a a shuttle (shared) taxi for Howrah station.
Ghosh added that as she was waiting for the taxi, a group of men forced her into a car and drove her to a secluded place where she was forced into another vehicle and allegedly gangraped at knife point.
“The woman said there were about five or six of them, including the driver, who gagged her in the car and said they would slit her throat if she shouted,” said a senior official of Howrah PS.
He added the accused returned the purse and mobile phone to the victim and abandoned her near Babughat in a semi-conscious state.
“She was bleeding profusely and spent most of the night near Babughat. Around 4.30 am, she managed to reach the Howrah Station from where she made a call to her family,” the police official said.
Later, her mother and uncle reached platform number 15 and took her to Howrah State General Hospital.
Joint CP Ghosh said: “Unless we talk to the girl, we cannot be sure of the place of occurrence and the vehicle involved in the crime.”
The officials of Howrah Police Station carried out the initial investigations and booked the complaint filed by the victim’s mother.
Later, the case was transferred to Watgunge PS in Port division of Kolkata and investigations taken up by the Kolkata Police.
The victim’s father, it has been learnt, is unemployed while her mother works as an ayah at different hospitals. Her elder sister is married.
“She is in a critical state and not in a position to talk. The attending doctor said an emergency operation would have to be conducted,” said West Bengal Commission for Women chairperson Sunanda Mukherjee after she visited the hospital where the victim has been admitted. “Given the trauma she is in, she would need a psychiatrist to counsel her along with medical treatment. I will meet the DC (port) tomorrow in this regard,” Mukherjee added.