The family has gone into hiding, the high court has been moved, the BJP has got involved, and a pro-Hindu outfit is bristling at it being nudged out of the picture. And at the centre of this “Beti Bachao initiative” in West Bengal’s communally sensitive Mograghat village are a 14-year-old and her Muslim friend, now missing for two months.
The BJP has been holding a dharna for four days over the alleged “abduction” of the 14-year-old girl. On Friday, while calling West Bengal a “jihadi hub”, the party announced the setting up of a three-member team to probe the case. On Saturday, a group of BJP MPs visited the site of the party dharna as also the girl’s village in South 24 Parganas.
A senior district police official said it was a case of “elopement”, but since the girl is a minor, police had to register a “kidnapping” FIR. “We are trying to find her. Mograhat is a highly charged mixed community area and we have to tread very cautiously. Senior police officers have assured BJP leaders that police are trying to rescue the girl,” said the officer.
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The Hindu Samhati, which claims to work towards “preventing and saving Hindu girls from eloping with Muslim boys”, earlier moved the Calcutta High Court for “recovery of the kidnapped girl” and arrest of the “culprits”. The high court has given police time till July 27 to do so.
The outfit, which is holding the girl’s family at an undisclosed location — apparently for their protection — is not happy with the BJP now “usurping” the case. It points out that the girl’s family has kept away from the BJP protest.
The Samhati’s president, Tapan Ghosh, said they have been pursuing the case since six months, when the girl was reported missing along with the boy, a classmate, for the first time. He sees this as part of the “Beti Bachao” initiative. One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects, the programme is incidentally directed at ending discrimination against the girl child.
A Mograghat police official also told The Sunday Express that the boy’s father had told them that the girl and he studied together in Class X in school and had eloped on their own the first time in February.
She was “recovered” by the police after two months and sent to a social welfare home. After about a month there, she was brought back home so that she could sit for her Class X exams.
The boy’s family has claimed ignorance regarding the second incident, when the girl was allegedly forcibly taken away on the night of May 4-5. They have also said they did not know where their son was now and that they had been trying to get in touch with him.
The girl’s younger sister, who is also in the Hindu Samhati’s “protection”, told The Sunday Express they were under threat from the boy’s “associates” and that the 14-year-old may have run away with her friend out of fear.
Ghosh said the girl’s family had been receiving threats from the “kidnappers”.
On his web portal, Ghosh has posted that the 14-year-old was “forcibly kidnapped”. “Her father is a very poor day-labourer. He and his wife have approached every authority… But that is Magrahat — Muslim majority block where notorious criminal Salim rules the area, not Mamata Banerjee or her police. Getting no assurance from the administration, the girl’s parents approached Hindu Samhati to rescue their girl. We assured them of all help. The girl’s family is being regularly threatened by (the kidnapper’s) elder brother”.
The BJP leadership, which refuses to talk about the Hindu Samhati, has said their dharna would continue till they receive an assurance from a senior police officer of the rank of IGP or a Home Department official.
A top BJP leader quipped that the state leadership was perhaps trying to impress the new party in-charge for West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya.