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INDIA: A Poor Woman Raped by PoliceLetter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
Salem-News Human rights Ambassador William Gomes contacts officials in India over police rape of married woman.
(HONG KONG) - A police official in India is a suspect in the forcible rape of a poor married woman on 21 April, who was summoned to the police station in Bhadreswar PS after her husband was released from custody in a dacoity case for 45 days. Dacoity is a term used for "banditry" in India.
The suspect, SI Mithun Banerjee, was working that night as the Officer-in Charge. He reportedly told the woman she needed to accompany him to his quarters.
The woman said that after she was inside, the police officer closed the windows and told her that she had to cooperate with him or her husband would be in grave danger. She said she struggled but did not call out for fear of being harmed.
As soon as her ordeal was over, the victim contacted her husband, who in turn began calling media and other groups for assistance.
The group Amitadyuti Kumar of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) responded to the family, hospital staff was refusing to allow the woman to treat her as a rape victim, or even evaluate her.
As APDR negotiated, a larger number of police officers arrived on the scene and then an interrogation of the young woman and her husband. Eventually, she was able to submit an official report of the incident. Serious charges against Indian police officers is anything but uncommon, the country has too much at stake to continually have its corruption be the face it shows to the world.
I have been informed that on 23 April, 2012, at about 8-30 PM, APDR came to learn that a young woman was raped by SI Mithun Banerjee, Officer-in Charge, Bhadreswar PS. We were informed that the young couple is seeking justice, but are too afraid to move alone and lodge a complaint. We asked them, whether they can go to the nearest Government Hospital and get medically examined first. They were even reluctant fearing that the Hospital authorities will refuse. Finally they agreed to come the nearest Government Hospital, the Chandernagore Sub-Divisional Hospital. We assured them that we will intervene if the Hospital authorities refuse.
They reached the Hospital by 8-45 PM, and requested for medical check up against their complaint of rape. As they feared, the Emergency Medical Officer on duty refused to entertain them and get the woman medically examined.. In about 15 minutes an APDR team also reached the Hospital and tried to reason with the MO for arranging medical check up. Finally after an official request on behalf of APDR, an outdoor ticket was prepared and after getting instruction from the Superintendent of the Hospital, necessary papers were being readied for her admission.
While all this was taking place, a well-built person was frequently coming in and going out of the emergency room and making calls with his cell phone. The Hospital staff revealed that he was a police personnel in plain dress.
In the meantime APDR also contacted the Chairperson, West Bengal Women’s Commission (WBWC) and also met the Superintendent of the Hospital in his quarters. The Chairperson, WBWC also called the Superintendent of Police, Hooghly. While the APDR team was discussing the matter with the Superintendent of the Hospital, he received a phone call and informed us that a police team is coming to the Hospital and if they make a formal requisition, necessary medical examination to ascertain the truth of allegation of rape will be conducted.
Within a few minutes, a large contingent of police appeared, first led by the SDPO, Chandernagore, followed by IPS Amitabha Verma, ASP. They interrogated the victim woman and her husband for about an hour and in another hour the woman’s handwritten complaint was received by the Officer-in Charge, Chandernagore PS, in which the victim categorically stated that she was raped by the Officer-in Charge, Bhadreswar PS in a room of the OC’s quarter.
The Incident: according to the victim and her husband:
1. The husband was arrested in a dacoity case and after 45 days in custody was released on 21/04/12. On the very night, two policemen from Bhadreswar P.S. chanced on him and asked him to come to the P.S. Accordingly the husband visited Bhadreswar P.S. on 22/4/12. As asked by O.C., Bhadreswar P.S. the husband summoned his wife to the P.S. over phone. At that time the O.C. took the mobile no. of the victim and her husband.
2. On 23/04/12, at about 3-30 PM, the O.C. asked the victim to visit the P.S. immediately in connection with her husband’s case.
3. She proceeded to the P.S. in an Auto (According to media reports a police vehicle was sent to the victim’s house to fetch her to the P.S.)
4. When the victim reached the P.S. the O.C. took her to his quarter. There was nobody in the quarter at that time. The O.C. took the victim to a room of the quarter and closed the windows. He threatened that if she did not obey her husband would be in grave danger. After that he pounced on her. According to the victim she tried to resist but did not shout out of fear that she might be killed. She was raped forcibly.
5. She reported the whole episode to her husband and the husband tried to contact some media from the numbers scrolled below the channel programmes.
6. After that he also contacted APDR.
Medical Examination and aftermath:
1. After receiving the formal complaint from the victim, the O.C., Chandernagore P.S. made a formal requisition for medical examination on her for alleged rape. The examination was done at Chandernagore Sub Divisional Hospital. at around 12 P.M. Interestingly, the Emergency Medical Officer noted the allegation of rape “as per statements of the victim’s husband’, but the victim herself narrated her plight and categorically stated in presence of the APDR team that she had been raped by the O.C. Bhadreswar P.S The discrepancy was pointed to the Emergency Medical Officer immediately thereafter. He admitted his mistake. The matter was also communicated to the superintendents of the Hospital at 11.30 P.M.
2. On 24/04/12 morning the victim was discharged from the Chandernagore Hospital. The husband along with her 5-6 years old son was waiting for whole night at the hospital, hungry and unfed. When the family was emerging from the hospital, they were forcibly placed in a police vehicle.
3. They were taken to Imambara Sadar Hospital. Sri Tanmoy Roy Chowdhury. IPS, SP Hooghly, Basab Talukdar, Special IG and other officials were present at the Imambara Sadar Hospital. There was another round of grilling of the victim and her husband at the hospital. The victim was also subjected to a fresh medical examination.
4. Though the victim made a formal complaint of rape against the O.C., Bhadreswar, P.S. , no action was taken against the O.C. was taken till then. Only towards the afternoon the media reported the O.C. is ‘closed’.
5. After medical examination, the whole family was again put on a police vehicle at about 2 P.M. and was taken to the District Women P.S. situated at the Chinsurah PS premises. At 3 P.M. they were again taken to the Imambarah Sadar Hospital and after about half an hour taken back to the District Women P.S.
6. At 5 P.M. we learnt that the whole family was then at Bhadreswar P.S.
7. At about 9 P.M., after the whole day’s ordeal without sleep or rest accompanied by continuous grilling by a top brass of the police hierarchy, they probably left the PS. But they could not be found in their home and remained incommunicado for the next 36 hours.
8. According to media reports, on 25.04.2012 they were taken to the CID Headquarters at Bhawani Bhawan, the accused O.C. was also asked to report there. Another round of grilling followed.
9. Towards the afternoon of 25.04.2012, the media quoting police sources reported that the accuse O.C. has been suspended. About three hours later, the media, again quoting police sources, further reported that the victim ‘retracted’ her allegation against the O.C.
1. The initial reluctance of both the hospital and police administration to entertain and act on the complaint of rape and subsequent warlike activities–both were aimed at suppressing the allegation and fact of the rape and deprive the woman of justice.
2. The couple is in their twenties and the husband returned home after 45 days in custody barely 40 hours prior to the incident of rape. In this situation vaginal rupture during rape is quite unlikely. The only substantive medical evidence will be cross matching of the vaginal swab of the victim with the accused’s semen. It is not known, whether such medical examination was conducted. So far as we know the victim’s clothing at the time of rape were not seized and not examined forensically for evidences of rape which is a must in such cases.
3. Like other such incidents of gross human rights violation, the police fed the media with misinformation at regular intervals like ‘no evidence of rape in medical examination’, ‘the woman has two marriages and is of bad character’, ‘ the woman admits she is mentally disbalanced’ so on and so forth.
4. It is not known whether the following bits of vital investigation were conducted by the police :
(a) Why the accused Bhadreswar PS O.C. was using an unregistered SIM for communicating with the woman, if such contacts were necessary as part of his official duty.
(b) The examination of Bhadreswar PS personnel to verify the victim’s presence in the PS at the time of alleged crime.
(c) Cross checking the description of the room of alleged crime at OC’s quarter as given by the victim and as it actually is.
(d) Cross matching of vaginal swab of the victim with the accused’s semen and forensic examination of victim’s clothes at the time of alleged rape as mentioned before are absolutely necessary to rule out the allegation of rape.
4. The police tried to break the moral of the victim and subjected her to tremendous mental and physical stress from 4 pm, 23 April to 25 April afternoon– almost for 48 hours at a stretch. The resulting trauma made her ill–she felt acute pain in the head and felt mentally agonized to such an extent that she could not remember what she said earlier to the police. The victim is a patient of Thyroid disorder. Two days without necessary essential medication invariably disturbs the physical and mental equilibrium of the patient. This was the opportunity the police was looking for and without wasting a moment she was taken to a magistrate to record an statement extracted in the face of severe trauma.
5. Media reports suggest that the victim made a statement u/s 164 of CrPC retracting the allegation of rape, which was also repeated by the Hon’ble CM, during her press meet on 27/0/4/12 The sub section 6 of section 164 states that The Magistrate recording a confession or statement under this section shall forward it to the Magistrate by whom the case is to be inquired into or tried.
The following questions need to be answered.
(a) How the police/media knew the contents of her sec 164 statement, when the law specifically meant it for the judicial magistrate.
(b) Whether the victim was provided with legal advice/opinion on the concequences before she was forced to make a statement u/s 164 CrPC.
(c) Even if the victim retracts her complaint can the accused absolved before getting the forensic test reports and till then shall the accused not to be dealt with as per law.
(d) Why the victim was taken to a magistrate to record a statement before the completion of the investigation based on her already registered complaint. Can this be explained without questioning the motive- was police anxious to give justice to the victim or they were hell-bent in rescuing their collegue from the long hand of law?
6. The whole chain of events does not suggest that the victim’s allegation was untrue. It rather points out how far and further the police can traumatise a victim of rape to get her retract her allegation. The treatment meted out to the victim is in blatant disregard of all human right standards. The traumatisation was aimed towards the whole family including the victim’s 5/6 year child, to subjugate the victim.
Please note that the Salem News Human Rights Ambassador has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women calling for her intervention into this case.
Therefore, I request the government and authorities concerned to provide protection to the victims during the length of the judicial process and eye-witnesses and launch a thorough and impartial investigation into the case resulting into legal action against the perpetrators and justice and compensation to the victims.
Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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