The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed a court-monitored investigation in four rape cases brought before it in the past one month. Special Commissioner of the Kolkata Police Damyanti Sen will head the probe. A Division Bench of Justices Prakash Shrivastava and Rajarshi Bharadwaj directed the investigation in the cases of rape at Deganga, Matia, Englishbazar and Bansdoni, which were brought before the court in form of public interest litigations.
During the hearing, the Bench expressed anguish over the cases and the Chief Justice asked whether any introspection was done by the State. Advocate General S. N. Mookherjee said that it was incumbent for everyone to introspect and pointed out that the State and the city had been accorded status of safest places.
The matter will come up again for hearing on April 20.
In the case involving the rape and death of a 14-year-old student at Hanskhali , the court reserved its order. The incident occurred on April 4 and the girl died the following day. The matter came to light on April 10 when the police arrested son of a local Trinamool Congress leader in connection with the crime. On Monday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s comments raising questions on the veracity of the allegation and the victim created a flutter in political circles.
“Criminal Investigation in shameful rape #Hanskhali leading to victim death is tainted & compromised when people in authority & constitutional position indicate judgmental stance. This against the law approach scuttles fair & independent probe as police is forced to toe such line,” Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Twitter in an oblique reference to the Chief Minister’s remarks.
Second accused arrested
On Tuesday, police arrested a second accused in connection with the crime. Prabhakar Poddar was arrested on the basis of interrogation of prime accused Brojogopal Gayali by the police.
Ananya Chakraborti Chatterjee, chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights visited Hanskhali and stated, “We are happy with the role of police”. The chairperson added that the big issue in the case was that the body had been cremated and even clothes burned. TMC MP from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra also came in support of the police and said that two persons have been arrested for the criminal act.
Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari visited Hanskhali and met the family members of the victim. Mr. Adhikari said the rape and death of the student was a “shame for West Bengal”.
CBI probe in to eyewitness death
In another development, the same Division Bench directed the CBI to probe the death of Niranjan Baishnab, an eyewitness in the murder of Congress councillor Tapan Kandu.
Niranjan Baishnab was found dead at his house on April 7 and a suicide note was found from his home. Tapan Kandu was killed on March 13 and a CBI probe was ordered in to his death on April 4. The court observed that both the incidents were interlinked.
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