West Bengal top official condemns politics over gang rape victim
West Bengal Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra Thursday "strongly deplored" attempts to "play politics" over the body of a 16-year-old girl who was twice raped by a gang and set ablaze.
The girl's body was Wednesday consigned to flames amid a raging political row over an alleged attempt by police to forcibly conduct the cremation.
The teenager was gang-raped twice in October. She breathed her last Tuesday at the government-run R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital where she was admitted with severe burn injuries Dec 23.
"The government is fully with the bereaved family. However, at this point I wish to deplore... strongly deplore the tendency to play politics over a dead body," Mitra told media persons here.
The girl's family as well as the opposition Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), and the Congress alleged that city police took away the girl's body and tried to forcibly cremate it.
This set off a row between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition.
As the opposition criticised the police's alleged bid to forcibly cremate the body, the Trinamool Congress hit back, saying it was a campaign by the opposition to malign the ruling party.
Mitra stressed the victim died of "extensive burns".
"There is no evidence of medical negligence. A six-member medical board was looking at the girl. She was in the trauma centre and isolation ward. Finally, she died of multiple organ failure due to extensive burns... around 65 to 70 percent burns."
The girl's father, a taxi driver hailing from Bihar, met Governor M.K. Narayanan Wednesday and expressed fears about his family's security after being allegedly threatened by police and goons to leave the state.
He also urged the governor to ensure death penalty for the six men arrested so far for sexual assaults on his daughter.
In a letter to the governor, the father described how police forcibly took away his daughter's body for cremation and urged for the personal security of his family, expressing retaliation by police.
Police, however, have denied the allegations.
Mitra said the state government and police were cooperating with the girl's family.
"The state government and the police are totally cooperating with the family. Despite the fact that there were lots of people on the streets and there were functions in north Kolkata in addition to the crowd because of the New Year, we have provided help to the family in accordance with their wishes," he said.
"We also provided assistance in her last rites... what they had asked of us," he said.
CPI-M central committee member Shaymal Chakraborty criticised Mitra's comment about politics over the girl's body, saying he had gone beyond his jurisdiction.
On Wednesday, political organisations and civil society members brought out rallies on the city streets to protest police inaction, and condemned rising crimes against women in the state.
(Posted on 02-01-2014)