While the country focuses on the capital city and the high-voltage drama in the Jahangirpuri area, it must not abandon the state that serves as the entry point for radical Islamists in India. We are talking about West Bengal.
The state at the country’s eastern border is struggling; it is gradually turning into a lawless hub of anti-socials involved in every crime one can list. The greatest sufferers of this steady depravity of the state are the women in the state. The Bengali women are in danger, and there is no one she can look to for protection.
Unfortunately, the most shameful deterioration happened when a woman is helming the state as chief. Perhaps it was a mistake of the Bhadraloks. They underestimated the decay in the moral compass of their newly elected leader when she had questioned a rape victim in the dawn of her reign.
On February 6, 2012, 37-year-old Suzette Jordan was gang-raped by five men, Kader Khan, Md. Ali, Nasir Khan, Ruman Khan, and Sumit Bajaj, whom she had met at the nightclub in the Park Street area. The rapists dumbed near the Exide crossing her from the moving car. This rape was one of its kind; it had not happened in any rural village of West Bengal but in one of the poshest areas of the City of Joy.
The unfortunate incident had sent tremors through West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee, who had assumed the position less than a year ago, was made to face more questions than she would have liked. This drove her to make the infamous comment still referred to in popular media as one of the greatest gaffes in Indian polity. While the state CM called the gang-rape a “fabricated case” aimed at maligning her governance, fellow TMC leader Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar echoed her chief’s suggestions. In her statement, she called the gang-rape of the mother of two a “misunderstanding between the victim and her clients,” insinuating that the victim was a sex worker.
The main accused in that case, Kabir Khan, was then dating an upcoming Tollywood actress, Nirsat Jahan. It was revealed through police investigations that this actress was instrumental in finding her rape-accused lover in a “safe place” outside Kolkata, had helped him flee, and had been in touch with him when the police were hunting for him. This lady was absorbed in the TMC in the coming years and is currently serving as a parliamentarian from the Bashirhat constituency.
With time, the Bengalis kept overlooking all the tragedies that befell their state and kept cheering for the hollow emotional outcry of Maa Mati Manush. But neither was Maa safe in West Bengal, nor Mati or Manush. It didn’t occur to them that a leader who claims that the free mingling between the different genders leads to rapes in the country perhaps does not resonate with the “liberal thinking” Bengalis.
Banerjee went on to win two more terms in the state and exercised the authority as arbitrarily as one could. The curtain raiser of her recent electoral win comprised bloodshed, violence, arson attacks, and political rapes – mass rapes.
The TMC matriarch has been accused of unleashing terror on opposition workers and using rape as a weapon. It has been alleged that numerous women, including minors, were raped by TMC workers as an act of vengeance against their family members who voted for the BJP or the CPIM. In a horrifying recounting, a 60-year-old elderly was raped in front of her grandson, TMC goons beat up a daughter-in-law. Their case has been moved to the Supreme Court. But how pragmatic would it be to expect that any justice will be delivered on these piled-up cases?
The third term of Mamata Banerjee’s government has seen the safety of the girl child shatter incorrigibly; minors in the state are becoming an easy target for preying molesters, regardless of the crime having a political motive or not.
Following the ghastly gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old in Hanskhali, Nadia, the state chief had to confront a few unflattering questions. The victim was reportedly piled with liquor before being gang-raped by her adult male friend Sohel, the son of a TMC leader. Committing a total character assassination of the deceased minor, the Chief Minister of West Bengal retorted, and we quote, “As a layman, I am saying where would someone get the evidence whether she was actually raped or was she pregnant or was there any other reason, like someone beat her up or she died of some illness. There was a love affair for sure, her family knew about it, and their neighbors also knew about it. Now, if a girl and a boy love each other, I cannot punish them. This is not Uttar Pradesh that I can do that in the name of Love Jihad.”
Mamata Banerjee has developed the habit of chanting that her state is “not Hathras” whenever she is quizzed about the burgeoning incidents of sexual violence in her state. Has she taken stalk of what has become of her state lately?
The situation has plummeted to such unreachable lows that multiple reports of attacks on minor girls are being reported each day. On April 2, a 13-year-old was gang-raped in the Harishchandrapur police station area of the Maldah district. She was visiting a local fair with her family and was abducted when she stepped aside to use the toilet. In another case, a 4-years-old was raped by another minor who fled the area after the crime. In Samserganj of Murshidabad district, a 9-year-old was being sexually assaulted by a 56-year-old man, but the local rescued her just in time. These three are the reported cases of sexual violence on three minors on the same day. How many of such reports have gone unreported? One can only imagine.
However, none of these instances has affected the state administration or the state chief. In fact, she has resorted to victim-blaming and victim shaming more unabashedly, proving that there has not been any change in her since her irresponsible remark in 2012. This picture doesn’t look perfect for the border state anymore.