An 18-year-old woman allegedly miscarried after a kangaroo court in Uttar Ranichak village of East Midnapore “forced her to do sit-ups” as punishment for “having an affair with a man and later marrying him”.
Police sources said an FIR has been filed against village head Sheikh Rabiul Mullick and secretary Sheikh Ashraf Ali, who convened the kangaroo court late on November 27.
They were unhappy with the fact that she married a 21-year-old carpenter three months ago and wanted to punish her for bringing “disrepute” to the village, a police officer said.
In rural Bengal, many ‘courts’ and few interventions
There have been no intensive drives or campaigns by the state government or police over the past few years to tackle the problem of kangaroo courts in West Bengal. Activists have alleged that these “courts” often have political backing. “If the police and administration want, they can stop this,” said Ranjit Sur, vice-president of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR). The police, on the other hand, say villagers and the relatives of victims often agree with and support such “courts”, which underlines the need for change in social attitudes as a whole. “Villagers often help the accused and that makes our job difficult,” said a police officer.
She did ten sit-ups and then fell unconscious, following which she was kicked in the stomach to wake her up, the officer added.
She was then rushed to the hospital, where she was informed about her miscarriage.
The matter came to light after the victim’s family filed a three-page complaint, alleging their daughter was tortured by the village headman and others. Mullick, Ashraf and three witnesses were named in the complaint.
“The family members filed a complaint. Efforts are on to trace the accused. None have been arrested yet,” Tanmoy Mukherjee, Sub Divisional Police Officer, told The Sunday Express.
Based on the family’s complaint, police sources said the accused were booked under sections including 313 (causing miscarriage without women’s consent), 314 (death caused by act done with intent to cause miscarriage), 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
“The victim’s statement has also been recorded,” said the police officer, adding that medical tests would be conducted to verify the allegations.
Condemning the incident, Trinamool Congress block leader Sheikh Mainuddin said, “It will not be tolerated and the police must arrest the culprits.”