Statements of Radical Socialist

Statement of Radical Socialist on the Madhyamgram Rape and Murder

Arrest the rapists and murderers and punish them

Punish rapists, not the women

Remove the Chief Secretary of West Bengal for his callous political comment

Statement of Radical Socialist on the Madhyamgram Rape and Murder

Nothing has changed in matters relating to rapes and killings in India since December 16, 2012, except perhaps a degree of heightening of awareness among ordinary people, especially the youth. The terrible incident in Delhi, India’s capital, when a young woman was gangraped in a moving bus, and then she and her companion were thrown out , and when she eventually died, led to a massive wave of protests. Yet, beyond passing a law (death penalty for rapists) which many activists argue will actually prevent an increase in the number of convictions, neither Central Government nor state governments have done much. Between 16 December 2012 and the Asaram Bapu arrest (31 August 2013, when a so-called Godman was arrested after much pushing and prodding on the charge of raping a girl) there were, according to one survey, 101 cases of rapes of dalit women. Yet these did not hit newspaper headlines, did not lead to TV talk shows (possibly because the media was simply not interested in highlighting such stuff), did not lead even middle class activists to pour out in such massive numbers.

In West Bengal, there have been continuous cases of rapes and killings. The current Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, used rape on women as one of the issues when she was in opposition to the CPI(Marxist) led government. On 7 January 1993, Ms. Banerjee went to the Writers’ Building with a hearing and speech impaired girl, who had been raped, and was pregnant. Ms. Banerjee claimed that the rapist was a CPI(M) man. Mamata Banerjee was then a Union Minister and youth Congress (I) leader in West Bengal. She led a three hour demonstration in front of the Chief Minister’s chamber at Writers’ Building, the seat of the government in West Bengal. Eventually she was violently thrown out and arrested, some members of the press manhandled, and the Press Corner demolished thereafter. Mamata Banerjee vowed she would never return to the Writers – and she returned only as Chief Minister, eighteen years later.

But now that she and her party are in power, it seems that West Bengal has already attained Nirvana, or has become Paradise. From 2009, the slogan of change was what brought her to power in 2011. But just what are the changes for women?  When any problem is mentioned, she treats it either as a legacy of the CPI(M), or as a false charge manufactured by the CPI(M) or some other political opponent.

The current mobilisation is over the repeated gangrape of a young girl in Madhyamgram, not too far from the state capital Calcutta.  A 16 year old daughter of a taxi driver was gang raped. When she dared to lodge a complaint to the police, she was waylaid and gang raped a second time. This was in late October 2013. By then, a whole series of rape as well as rape and murder incidents had already occurred in West Bengal post-the change in government from CPI(M) led Left Front to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress (TMC).  These include the rape of a woman in Park Street, Kolkata’s posh eating out area, rapes and murders in Kamduni near Barasat, Kharjuna in Murshidabad district, and other cases. The National Crimes Record Bureau gave out figures in June 2013, according to which there had been 2046 rapes in West Bengal in 2012.

The responses of the West Bengal government have been the following:
•    Try to play down the issue. Treat each case as isolated.
•    Vilify the accusers or the people who campaign for civil liberties. The CM herself did this in a live TV programme once, when she told a young women who had asked uncomfortable questions that she was a CPI(M) agent  and a Maoist.
•    If after all this there are protests, then there are attempts to threaten, victimize, and silence these protests.
•    Finally, if the case is too well publicised to be shut out, like Kamduni, or now Madhyamgram, token gestures are made, while putting pressure on the family to distance themselves from protestors.

In the Madhyamgram case, the young woman was under continuous pressure after the repeated gang rapes.  The family, originally from Samastipur in Bihar, had settled in Madhyamgram a year ago. However, they shifted to Dum Dum after some local goons threatened them with dire consequences if they didn't withdraw the case against the accused. The family say they had informed the police, but clearly no action was taken. On December 23 a close associate of the gang leader had barged into their Dum Dum residence and again threatened them following which the girl tried to commit suicide the same day. According to another version which includes her dying declaration she had not set herself ablaze. And yet, the Chief Secretary of West Bengal, (i.e., the highest ranking state bureaucrat, who is directly under the Chief Minister, who is also the minister in charge of the police force) asserted that the state had taken necessary measures. Had this been true, why did the family have to shift residence and why was it again attacked?

The Government of India is culpable, because it has done nothing but take action when the Delhi population is out on the streets. The Government of West Bengal is culpable, because it has, by denying the gravity of rapes in the province, emboldened rapists (it is also reputed that many accused in a number of rape cases are connected to the ruling party).  We protest the way governments are abdicating responsibility and thereby de facto helping rapists and murderers. We demand the arrest of rapists in every case, and justice. We demand the suspension of police officials who failed to provide assistance in the Madhyamgram case even after the first report. We demand the removal of the Chief Secretary, for whom protesting rape is “playing politics with dead bodies”.