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I dared to leave CPM, was thrashed and raped: Kavita Kaloi

Author: Amrita Madhukalya
Publication: DNAIndia.com
Date: February 18, 2018
URL:   http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-i-dared-to-leave-cpm-was-thrashed-and-raped-kavita-kaloi-2585799/amp?__twitter_impression=true

The provocation behind the incident was that Kaloi dumped CPM for BJP as years of working with the CPM could not get her MGNREGA benefits.

Kavita Kaloi, 51, remembers the evening of March 26, 2016, like it was yesterday. She was on her way back home alone in the evening, and her youngest son was away in Agartala. A local goon held her from behind and started beating her, first with a torch and then threw her on the ground and stated kicking her. As she was losing her consciousness, she remembers him forcing himself on her.

Two years after the crime, today, Kaloi cannot see from her left eye and still carries the scars of that evening. The provocation behind the incident was that Kaloi dumped CPM for BJP as years of working with the CPM could not get her MGNREGA benefits.

"I think they were angry that I dared," she says as she sits in her modest house next to the Teliamura local market. Of her two sons, one is coaching in a football academy and the other works in Bangalore. Her husband passed away long ago. Her youngest son, Rammohan now shadows her everywhere she goes.

In this elections, of the 2,505,997 voters, 1,230,628 are women. Over 23 women are contesting the polls this time, and CM Manik Sarkar's most formidable rivals in his constituency of Dhanpur are two women — BJP's Pratima Bhowmik and Congress' Lakshmi Nag.

Yet, Tripura's rate of crime against women, as per the National Crime Records Bureau 2015 was 68.2%, above the national rate of 53.92%. And a finding states that 7% women in Tripura had experienced physical and sexual violence at some point, which is the highest amongst the Northeastern states and higher than the national average of 4.5%.These statistics have come handy with politicians of all hues.

While the BJP has promised everything from free education to girls to self-employment schemes to strengthening the State Women Commission, the Congress has promised a 24/7 helpline, legal aid for women who face violence and more women in the police force. The CPM has, on its part, promised speedy investigations in such cases.

BJP's Sunil Deodhar says that CPM cadre have used rape to attack other political parties. "Rape is a tool of political revenge here, CPM cadres rape women of other parties," he says. Congress working president Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, however, says that rapists do not belong to political parties. "A rapist is not a tribal or a Bengali, he is a rapist, period. What we need to do is control the crime rate and build fast track courts, and, women-only police stations where they may feel comfortable filing complaints about any form of abuse they face," says Debbarma. CPM's Bijan Dhar dismissed any conversation on women safety.

Yet, as per Shoma Majumdar, a woman whose public abuse went viral in 2014, says that the BJP is no better. In 2014, Shoma was tied to the pole of a Kali Mandir in Chandrapara, the outskirts of Agartala and beaten up by people publicly, some with shoes. With the video going viral, she was taken by the BJP with promises of a larger role in the party. But with elections preparations in full swing, she's sitting at home angry.

"They promised me a larger role and took me to a press conference. But, I just feel used today," said Majumdar.

Shoma right best to the pillar of the Chandrapara Kali Mandir where she was publicly beaten up

Shoma at home with her husband at Chandrapara

Congress' Basna Debnath, who runs an NGO says there are many cases of unreported rapes in the state, especially in the hill areas. "Five-year-olds are raped, women and raped and then burnt, and yet the crime rate has simply risen," she says.

In Majumdar's case, she even filed cases against the police officers. She recalls how the women constables were so uncivil with her. "They treated me like an untouchable in that state," she says.
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