While the spine-chilling violence of Rampurhat, Birbhum continues to dominate headlines, another shocking incident has surfaced from the state of West Bengal. A vanvasi (tribal) woman from the Sandeshkhali village in North 24 Parganas was raped in her house in front of her two children, aged 3 and 5, on the night of Friday, March 18.
As per the complaint registered by the victim, the accused man had torn down the door of her house and barged inside around midnight. Her children were asleep. Her husband was out of town on some work. Taking advantage of the situation, the attacker barged into the house and started assaulting the woman.
She pleaded with him to leave her and cried that her minor children were around. But this had no effect on the attacker. He threatened to kill her children; the victim tried to fight him using the utensils lying around but was over-powered and battered by him. He started to molest her, but the children woke up and started to cry. The accused then thrashed the children as well, the victim said.
He then shoved cloth in the woman’s mouth and raped her as her hapless and terrified children watched on crying. Before leaving, he warned her against talking about this to anyone, or he would murder her children. Fearing for their lives, the victim remained quiet for two days. “Later I thought, if I stay silent, he will be encouraged. He can attack others as well,” shared the woman. On Monday, March 21, she reached the local police station and registered a complaint about the incident.
The police arrested the accused was presented him before the Bashirhat ACJM court, from where he was sentenced to 4 days of police remand.
Under Mamata Banerjee’s rule, violence on women has become such a regular in the past 11 years that even media in the state does not find it worthy of covering. No section of society, apart from probably the Kolkata antel elites, is safe from this lawlessness, with poor and disorganized Hindus being the most vulnerable.
In August, West Bengal police detained a Muslim lorry driver accused of the murder of his wife and her daughter. His wife was from a vanvasi community. Back in October, a report of a vanvasi woman being ambushed and raped surfaced from Manteswar Police Station in West Bengal’s Purba Bardhaman district. The incident allegedly occurred in the late hours when the victim was returning home from a local market. In November 2021, a 6-year-old girl from a vanvasi family was raped, murdered, and buried in the nearby paddy field.
There has been an eerie silence in the media about the growing atrocities on tribals in the state. Even the assorted feminists and intellectuals from Bengal, who often preside over talks on this subject, have shied away from starting a discussion about the worsening condition of the vanvasi community in West Bengal. Unarguably, the state is going through one of its darkest times in post-Independence history.