Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma, on Wednesday said the people of the Darjeeling hills were subjected to “unimaginable atrocities” during the 105-day Gorkhaland agitation last year. Addressing a press conference in Kalimpong, Sharma said she will highlight the issue with the President of India and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh if the state government fails to give justice to the victims.
“I did not feel like I was in independent India. Police acted at the behest of the ruling party. Darjeeling IC Soumyajit Roy, who issued a rape threat, and District Magistrate Joyoshi Dasgupta did not have answers to many of my questions,” she said. “Unimaginable atrocities have been committed. Innumerable people are in the forests for fear of being arrested if they return home. In the jails, I saw people have 45-47 cases against them so that they have to deal with cases their entire lives, women with small children have been jailed and one small kid was jailed under the Arms Act,” said Sharma.
“If police are acting on their own, Mamata ji (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) should have initiated inquiry against the police officers,” she added.
Narrating her experiences of meeting women victims of the agitation and political prisoners, she said that “democracy has died in Darjeeling”.
Sharma said she was only provided security after she wrote to the state government.
“I was told by the state government that everyone is busy in elections and I would not get any help. I was provided with security only after writing a letter to the DG and chief secretary stating that my safety was the responsibility of the state government,” said Sharma.
When asked about protests from women during her visit, she claimed they were politically motivated. “I would try to bring justice to these women at first through the intervention of the state government, and if it does not co-operate with us, I will take the issue to the home minister and President,” she said.