Arrest Of North Bengal ‘Rape-Murder’ Victim’s Family Members Sparks Angry Cries Of Muslim Appeasement
The arrest of rape and murder victim’s family members has triggered major protest in Uttar Dinajpur district.
The BJP is now planning to launch a sustained campaign against this minority appeasement.
The arrest of the father and two brothers of the 16-year-old alleged rape-murder victim at Chopra in north Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district has triggered an outcry and charges of Muslim appeasement.
The girl had gone missing from her home on Saturday evening and her half-naked body that reportedly bore marks of injuries was discovered on Sunday morning. The incident sparked angry protests and allegations that some Muslim men had abducted and raped the girl, who belonged to the indigenous Rajbongshi community — who are Hindus.
North Bengal got engulfed in a storm of protests by angry mobs, who torched some vehicles, including government and police vans, and blocked a highway for a few hours. The girl’s elder brother, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) booth president, alleged that Trinamool goons had committed the crime.
The police released the post-mortem examination report that suggested the victim died of poisoning. But the BJP rubbished the report and said that it was doctored to suit the narrative of the Trinamool.
Trinamool leaders echoed local Muslim community leaders who said that the girl and the prime accused, one Feroze Ali, were classmates and were having an affair. They said the girl consumed poison after a tiff with the boy.
The girl’s family lodged a police complaint against the boy and his family members and relatives. But the boy’s body was found on Monday noon from a spot near the place where the girl’s body was recovered from.
The recovery of the boy’s body generated tension with agitated Muslims alleging that the girl’s family had killed the boy. But locals dismissed those allegations and pointed out that the police had combed the entire area a few times after the girl’s body was found.
“The boy’s body was discovered from the banks of a waterbody that had been searched by the police and many local people repeatedly on Monday and also on Tuesday. So how come the body was suddenly found at the place that had already been searched? There is a deep conspiracy and foul play here,” said a distant relative of the girl.
After the recovery of the boy’s body, his father lodged a formal complaint naming the girl’s father and brothers for the alleged murder of his son. Acting on this complaint, the police arrested the girl’s father and two brothers soon after they had cremated the girl on Tuesday noon.
The arrests have incensed Hindus, especially the Rajbongshi community.
“The police arrested the girl’s father and brothers only to appease the Muslims who were angry over the death of the boy. This is so unfair,” said the girl’s relative.
District administration officials, who asked not to be named, said that the police acted on the complaint of the boy’s father and arrested the girl’s family members “in order to control the situation from getting out of hand”.
“Muslims got very agitated after the boy’s body was found and alleged that the girl’s family had murdered the boy. The Muslim community started calling for revenge and many young men were threatening to take the law into their own hands if police did not act. There was a real danger of Muslims attacking Hindus and a riot breaking out. So the arrests were necessary to douse passions,” explained a district administration officer.
Leaders of the BJP who have rallied in support of the girl’s family said that the police were biased.
“The arrests of the girl’s father and brothers are yet another example of the shameless appeasement of Muslims by the present Trinamool government. We will launch an agitation against this,” said an angry Surojeet Sen, the vice-president of the BJP’s Uttar Dinajpur unit.
Rajbongshi leaders said the community was hurt and angry.
“The girl’s father and brothers who had carried out her last rites will not be able to observe the prescribed rituals now since they were remanded to police custody for 10 days. This is a grave insult to our sentiments. The police could have waited till all the rituals were over and utilised the time to carry out a thorough investigation,” said a Hemanta Singha, a Rajbongshi community leader.
Other community leaders said that the police should have acted responsibly and not in a biased manner in order to appease the Mulims.
“If passions in the Muslim community were running high and they (the Muslims) were planning to attack Hindus in Chopra, the police should have beefed up security for Hindus and warned the Muslims,” said another Rajbongshi leader, a schoolteacher, who did not want to be named.
“If the police acted on the complaint of the boy’s father and arrested the girl’s relatives, they should have first acted on the complaint of the girl’s family against the boy’s family and some local musclemen. By not doing so, the police have exposed their anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim bias,” said Uttar Dinajpur district BJP chief Biswajit Lahiri.
The BJP is planning to launch a sustained campaign against this minority appeasement.
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