Tensions gripped Siliguri after the body of a minor girl belonging to a tribal community was found at a tea plantation near Salbari on National Highway-55, connecting the sub-Himalayan town with Darjeeling on Friday morning, police said. “She had been missing since September 21, after she attended sewing classes at Salbari. Her family members had filed an FIR at the Pradhannagar police station,” said a senior police official. The victim’s father is a sweeper at the office of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, he added.
Police said that prima facie evidence suggests that the girl was raped prior to her murder. Police teams conducted a thorough search of the spot where the body was found, and recovered cold drink bottles and a mobile phone, which is suspected to belong to the accused, police sources said.
“We believe that the girl was taken to this lonely spot by a male acquaintance and after the two drank the beverages, he raped and strangled her,” another police official confirmed.
The body was taken to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, where doctors conducted a post-mortem on her and confirmed that she was sexually assaulted.
Meanwhile, residents of Dhaknikata police station area, where the girl lived, resorted to protests against police inaction on Saturday. They blocked the road demanding immediate arrest of the guilty.
CPM leader and Siliguri Mayor Asok Bhattacharya and local councilor Mukul Sengupta visited the residence of the victim and assured the girl’s parents that their family would get justice.
Bhattacharya said that he has written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanding her immediate intervention in the matter, and threatened to start further protests if the demands aren’t met.
“Women in the state are feeling insecure and crime against them is increasing by the day. I would like to bring to your notice that during your latest visit to north Bengal, a tribal girl was raped and murdered in Siliguri. I request you to take necessary action in the matter,” wrote Bhattacharya.
Recently, the Left leader had accused the ruling Trinamool government of a “vindictive attitude” towards Opposition-controlled municipalities.