Bengal rape victim assured of rehabilitation

Kolkata, Jan 25: Faced with constant criticism over its handling of the brutal gangrape of a 20-year-old tribal woman allegedly at the behest of a kangaroo court, the West Bengal government Saturday assured the victim of rehabilitation.

Woman and Child Welfare Minister Shashi Panja visited the victim, currently recuperating in a hospital after being repeatedly brutalised Jan 20 by at least a dozen men in Birbhum district’s Subalpur village.

“She has a few apprehensions, including whether she would be accepted back in society. I have assured her that the government will extend every possible help to ensure her full rehabilitation. We have advised her not worry about anything and concentrate on regaining her health,” Panja said, after meeting the victim at the Suri Sadar Hospital.

The woman was allegedly violated following orders of a tribal kangaroo court which found her “guilty of having an affair with a man outside her community”.

The woman has said she was left at the mercy of the men after she was unable to pay Rs.50,000 imposed on her as a fine by the headman for having an affair with a man outside her community. Her male companion was tied up as she was brutalised. He was let off on payment of a fine, and the woman punished for being too poor to pay the fine.

Officials of the district administration as well as of the woman and child welfare department have been in constant touch with the victim.

The incident, which has shaken the nation, and brought India into international headlines for all the wrong reasons, prompted the apex judiciary to issue notice to the Mamata Banerjee government for a probe.

“It is very disturbing news. We take suo motu cognisance of it,” Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam said, as a bench headed by him Friday directed the Birbhum authorities to inquire into the matter and submit a report in one week.

Thirteen people, including the village headman who ordered the brutality, and 12 men who raped the victim through the night, are behind bars.

IANS