BJP claims two women stripped, assaulted in Malda; TMC calls it diversionary tactics

Kolkata, July 22: Two women were assaulted and allegedly stripped in a market in West Bengal’s Malda district earlier this week by a group of people and the police have detained five persons in connection with it.

A suo moto case was lodged in the incident, which took place when the women went to the market at Bamangola in Malda district to sell their wares and the people there suspected them of committing theft, a senior official of Malda district police said.

A purported video of the incident showing a mob beating up the women mercilessly on Wednesday was shared in the social media by Amit Malviya, the head of BJP’s IT cell on Saturday.

Malviya tweeted, “The horror continues in West Bengal. Two tribal women were stripped naked, tortured  and beaten mercilessly, while the police remained mute spectators in Pakua Haat area of Bamongola police station in Malda.

The claim was promptly rubbished by the ruling TMC, which accused the saffron party of resorting to “diversionary tactics”. Malviya in his tweet said, “The horror continues in West Bengal. Two tribal women were stripped naked, tortured and beaten mercilessly, while the police remained a mute spectator in Pakua Hat area of Bamangola police station, Malda.

He said, “The horrific incident took place on the morning of 19th July. The women belonged to the socially marginalised community and had a frenzied mob baying for their blood …. It had all the makings of a tragedy that should have ‘broken’ Mamata Banerjee’s heart and she, instead of merely outraging, could have acted since she is also the home minister of Bengal …”.

Rubbishing the charges, the state Minister for Women and Child Health, Shashi Panja told reporters here that the two were embroiled in a scuffle with other women who accused them of theft. Women civic police volunteers who were present at the spot tried to stop them. Later the women left on their own.

She accused BJP of resorting to “diversionary tactics” by “hyping” a quarrel between local women over the selling of vegetables and allegations of theft. “The scuffle has no political or casteist overtones … BJP is unnecessarily making this a political issue,” the minister asserted.

“After the surfacing of the video of two women being disrobed and paraded by a mob in Manipur, after hundreds of such incidents come to light every day in that state and after the deafening silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for months even after Manipur burnt, BJP is now trying to deflect attention from the main issue.

“The main issue is the trampling of human rights, brutalities against women and the inaction of the BJP government in the state (Manipur). But BJP’s ploy will not succeed. Everyone knows what happened in Manipur and the Centre’s role in it,” Panja said.

She referred to allegations by the saffron party that a  woman gram sabha candidate had been stripped during the July 8 rural poll in the state and asked, “How come the fact finding team of BJP consisting of women MPs did not come across any such case? How come the central forces camping in the booths did not report anything? Police investigations too indicated no such incident took place.

“We (TMC) assert that Modi cannot escape facing queries by MPs in Parliament on the gruesome happenings in Manipur by using such diversionary tactics … Bengal is not like Manipur or any other BJP-ruled states. No bestial crimes against women are reported in our state, which is helmed by a woman (Mamata Banerjee). However, if there is any report of such an incident our police and investigating agencies take the necessary action,” she added.  The police when asked said, “We are conducting raids at the moment. We are unable to tell much about the incident as the investigation is in its early stage,” he said.

The Congress, which  gave a ‘failed’ verdict to the Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani amid the national outrage on the video on the parading of two disrobed women in Manipur, condemned the Malda incident. It claimed that the state was among the first five in the country where atrocities were committed against women.

WBPCC president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that several such cases were not reported. “I strongly condemn the incident. Those responsible for it must be brought to book and the strictest punishment should be meted out to them,” he told reporters here.

BJP’s claim about the assault of women in Malda came on the heels of another by the state party president Sukanta Majumdar at a press conference in Delhi on Friday.

Majumdar claimed that “Manipur-like” situation was prevailing in West Bengal and a woman BJP candidate was disrobed and paraded at Panchla in Howrah district for daring to contest the rural poll held on July 8.

BJP MP Locket Chatterjee had even broken down during the press conference. “The West Bengal chief minister is silent despite being a woman. You tell us where we will go. We also want our daughters to be saved,” she said. The West Bengal director general police Manoj Malviya said on Friday that no evidence of the act was found. (PTI)