As Muslim majority areas of Kolkata are getting converted into dark and cloistered sites of crime and lawlessness, police and administration have become mute spectators. An innocent minor Dalit girl is the new victim
Impossible, we can’t raid the house and recover your daughter.” uttered Gopal Mondal, investigating officer of Garden Reach police station, “Who will ensure my security?’
Punam kumari Das alias Guria has been missing since June 10, 2017 (FIR No.132 dated 10/06/17 of Garden Reach PS under section 363 of IPC). Vinod Das, father of the minor Dalit girl lodged a verbal complaint at police station. On June 7, 2017, in the morning, police recovered the girl initially from the residence of Korban Ali. His son Mintu Shekh confessed his crime but police didn’t take any action. Within a couple of days again the minor girl was abducted. Guria’s father, Vinod Das is a conservancy staff of Kolkata Corporation. He belongs to Schedule Caste community (sub-caste Mochi). Poor Vinod rushed to the police station and lodged a formal written complaint. Police expressed their helplessness. They wouldn’t dare to recover the minor Dalit girl from the den. Kidnapping Dalit girls and rape/ molestation of poor Hindu girls have become very common phenomenon in West Bengal.
Victimisation of Dalits
From Kamduni to Hnaskhali, all victim girls were from Dalit community. The fact of the matter remains that in a “progressive” and “liberal” state like West Bengal, Dalit girls are found to be easy prey! In most of the cases the victim families don’t have money or courage to fight against the communal goons. Seldom have they knocked at the door of court. Md. Masrek Ali, Officer-in-charge of Garden Reach police station was kind enough to advise Vinod to forget his daughter.
Forgetting his only daughter was not very easy task for Vinod. After the death of his wife, small Guria was the only thread to life on earth. Vinod was wandering like a vagabond, narrating his painful story to everyone. In last December he was introduced with a young lawyer of Calcutta High Court. Uday Chandra Jha agreed to file a suit free of cost. It was filed in Calcutta high court on January 16, 2018 ( W.P. No. 1175(W) of 2018, RC, Calcutta HC). On February 2 the court ordered police to submit the report. Next date was February 16. The court order reveals, “Learned advocate for the state submitted that, despite the best of the efforts, the victim girl could not be recovered. The police have also sent information to the private respondent through Garden Reach police station. The response is awaited”. The complaint was lodged on June 10, 2017 and police finally disclosed their incapability on February 16, 2018. Obviously the court was not happy, Justice Debangsu Basak instructed Deputy Commissioner (Crime), Kolkata Police to “ensure a raid is carried at the premises identified by the petitioner”. Police was supposed to submit their affidavit on February 28, 2018. Incidentally, the lawyers’ strike has kept Calcutta High Court shut since February 19. And Guria couldn’t be recovered.
Nevertheless, Vinod had been asked to report several officers at 18, Lalbazar Street, the head quarters of Kolkata Police. On April 9 police arranged a test identification parade at Lalbazar. Police produced Mintu Shekh over there. Meenu (name changed), niece of Punam, clearly identified him in TI parade. Interestingly, police allowed Mintu to flee after beating trivially with baton. On April 11, Vinod appeared before Md. Alam, an officer at Lalbazar. According to Vinod, Alam mentally tortured him for taking the matter to the court of law.
‘Mini Pakistan’ in Kolkata?
What is so special about Garden Reach? Why does Kolkata police not dare to raid at any place in Khidirpur, Metiaburuz or Garden Reach area, without taking permission from local “bosses”? Firad Hakim, minister and local MLA describes the area as “mini Pakistan” (Dawn, April 29, 2016). A densely populated riverside area, full of illegally constructed 5/6 storyed buildings. Small and big mosques, adjacent to every mosque there is a space for open cow slotting, beautified with glazed tiles by Kolkata Corporation. Narrow dirty lanes, big yellow pieces of beef are displayed all day long at the entrance of every lane. Indeed, Indian police administration is helpless and unsafe in this locality. TMC is sincerely carrying the legacy of earlier Left Government.
On March 18, 1984 Vinod Mehta, Deputy Commissioner (Port) was murdered in his area. “In broad daylight, watched by hundreds, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Port) Vinod Kumar Mehta, 35, and his bodyguard Moktar Ahmed Khan, 36, were dragged into a narrow lane by a mob. Four hours later, their mutilated bodies were discovered… The Deputy Commissioners naked body lay in a drain with his eyes gouged out……..” reported Sumanta Sen in India Today, April 15, 1984. Left-front leader Kalimuddin Shams was linked to the brutal murder of a brave IPS officer. However, Jyoti Basu government hushed up the heinous crime. History repeats itself. In 2013, local Trinamool Congress leader Mohammed Iqbal alias Munna killed sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury in open day light. As a matter of fact there is sufficient reason to scare Md. Masrek Ali or Gopal Mondal of Garden Reach police station.
Kolkata police couldn’t recover the minor girl even after the intervention of Calcutta High Court. Social media became active with a demand for recovery of Guria. Interestingly police immediately took steps to stop the voice of protest. On April 17, Praveen Tripathi, Joint Commissioner (Crime) tweeted “A false rumour being spread on social media about a missing minor girl held captive in a Metiabruz house and police being afraid of raiding the house. Don’t believe in rumours being spread to create communal tension. All indulged in spreading rumour would be severely dealt with”.
On April 19, in the morning police called Pappu Das, nephew of Vinod Das at Lalbazar. Police showed him picture of a dead body in the computer monitor, photograph of a putrefacted female body. Pappu couldn’t identify the person as his cousin sister Guria. Next day, Garden Reach police brought him to Lalbazar again but to no avail.