Kolkata, Jan 5: Taxi drivers and linguistic minorities, including Hindi and Bhojpuri-speaking communities, Sunday joined street protests here against the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl.
A large number of taxi drivers brought out a rally from Wellington to Dharamtalla area in central Kolkata, expressing solidarity with the girl and her family.
The girl’s father, hailing from Samastipur in Bihar, is a taxi driver in the city.
The protestors demanded “exemplary punishment” for the culprits and decried the failure of the West Bengal administration and police to save the girl, who was raped twice by a gang in Madhyamgram of North 24 Parganas district and then allegedly set ablaze.
They also denounced the police for not standing by the family after the girl’s death and instead asking them to go back to Bihar.
Around 1,200 people, comprising representatives of Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, Maithili and Bhojpuri-speaking people, took out a silent march from the Sealdah flyover to College Square condemning the incident.
They carried posters in several languages, saying “Stop rape, save girl”, “Save my dignity, I am your daughter”, “Dhik, Dhik, CM” (Shame chief minister) and “Give respect to Maithili girl”.
The fledgling West Bengal unit of the Aam Aadmi Party also held a rally from the base of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s statue at the Shaymbazar five-point crossing in north Kolkata to the Metro Channel in the city centre.
“The recent incidents of Madhyamgram and Park Street (where an Anglo-Indian woman was raped in 2012) clearly portray the lack of security for women in the state and we would request the state government to take security issues into consideration,” said AAP volunteer Ranjana Singh.
“In West Bengal, it seems rapists are moving freely. None of the cases have been solved. Whatever has happened in Madhyamgram is a shame for humanity,” said another AAP volunteer.
The girl was gang-raped twice in October, with the second assault taking place when she was returning home after filing a police complaint.
She breathed her last Dec 31 at a government hospital where she was admitted with severe burn injuries Dec 23.
Police have slapped murder charges against two accused, now in custody, based on the girl’s dying declaration that the duo had set her ablaze.
Police have drawn flak for their alleged efforts to perform the last rites of the girl themselves to prevent any demonstration with the body.