Kolkata: At a time when the Nirbhaya case was reaching its logical end in Delhi, the gangrape and murder of a 20-year-old girl returning home after appearing for a university examination at Kamduni village in North 24 Parganas district on June 7 shocked the state. West Bengal held the dubious record of the highest incidents of crime against women for the second consecutive year in 2012, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
This case was similar to the Nirbhaya case in many ways: the girl’s father, a rickshaw puller, insisted on educating his daughter and had even refused marriage proposals. He forced people to wake up to the alarming crime situation in the state, demanding justice and protection for women.
However, people were stunned by the reaction of West Bengal’s first woman chief minister Mamata Banerjee. They wanted to see that Banerjee who, as leader of opposition, was always the first to reach any spot and stand by people in the hour of crisis. When she finally made that “secret visit” to the victim’s house 10 days after the incident, Banerjee lost her cool with the women there who were shouting slogans demanding security and justice. She accused them of beings Maoist and Communist sympathisers and of trying to kill her during the visit. Political appeasement followed, as the victims’ brothers were offered jobs and other compensation. But they refused, demanding justice, making the government look more pathetic in the eyes of the public.
Banerjee promised justice in 30 days, and in trying to keep with the timetable, the police filed an incomplete chargesheet earning the wrath of the court. This gave the culprits more time and denied the victim swift justice. The main accused, Saiful Mollah, and the other seven — Ansar Ali, Shamimul Ali, Amirul, Bhola Naskar, Amin Ali, Nur Ali and Gopal Naskar — were eventually tried under sections that carry life imprisonment.