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2 year long torture for Sutia women ends, 3 arrested

2 year long torture for Sutia women ends, 3 arrested

Author: Somnath Batabyal
Publication: NDTV
Date: November 29, 2002
URL: http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?template=Womencrime&slug=3+arrested+for+abusing+24%2DParganas+women+&id=10729&callid=0

For two long years women in West Bengal's North 24 Pargana's district were terrorised by a group of men allegedly affiliated to the two main political parties in the state, the CPI (M) and Trinamool Congress.

But it was only after the initiative of a non-government organisation that three of them have now been arrested. And with more women emboldened to tell their story, it appears that more than 50 women were victimised by the group.

"I was brutally beaten. Then they took me to the field, tore off my clothes, molested me and burnt my face with cigarette stubs," recounts a victim.

"It was around 2.30 at night, that they came and took my daughter away. When she came back to the house, she was vomiting," says the victims mother.

Silent sufferers

At Sutia village stories of such brutalities are common and the local police station has more than 30 complaints of rape, blackmail, beatings and extortion. The victims have always been the poor, people who had no means to protest.

And it was only after the three gangsters-Susanta Choudhury, Prakash Dahli and Bidhan Sarkar-were arrested in several other cases, that the women came forward to register their complaints through a local NGO.

"Even in the mornings, they roam around with guns. We were naturally afraid to protest against them," says another victim.

Goons with political backing

Contrary to police denials, local people state that the goons were hired by political parties.

The gangsters have been operating in this area for nearly 10 years, but the police have no clear explanation of why they were not arrested earlier.

They deny that there was any political pressure not to take action. But with the State Women's Commission stepping in and the Chief Minister also taking note, several arrest have now been made.

"They targeted selected houses, where the women had some problems with their husband or had some allegations against them. They not only extorted money, but also beat them up. There are three cases where rape has also been complained of," said H S Verma, SP, North 24-Parganas.

But these accounts are just the tip of the iceberg. Many stories go untold, with the victims unwilling to recount the brutal stories of rape, blackmail and beatings in front of the camera.

After remaining mute spectators for more than a year, the police have finally initiated arrests. But for the brutalised victims, the fear remains, the fear of being hounded again after these men are set free.

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