Calcutta HC may hear petition on protection of Hanskhali witnesses

Kolkata, April 19 (IANS) A petition, praying for adequate protection for family members of the victim and witnesses in the sensational Hanskhali gangrape case in West Bengal, is likely to be heard on Wednesday by the Calcutta High Court.
 
Calcutta HC may hear petition on protection of Hanskhali witnesses

Kolkata, April 19 (IANS) A petition, praying for adequate protection for family members of the victim and witnesses in the sensational Hanskhali gangrape case in West Bengal, is likely to be heard on Wednesday by the Calcutta High Court.

The case, in which a minor from Hanskhali in Nadia was allegedly gangraped by the son of an influential politician and his friends on April 5, is now being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as per orders of the high court.

The family of the girl was allegedly prevented from taking her to a doctor by the perpetrators of the crime after she she started bleeding due to the injuries suffered during the ordeal.

She was taken to a local quack instead and died due to excessive blood loss, it was alleged in an earlier petition seeking a probe by an independent agency.

The girl was also allegedly cremated by the goons and their henchmen -- all of them belonging to the political party in power in the state -- at an unlicensed crematorium in the village without an autopsy or death certificate.

The police registered a complaint only on April 10 after which Brijgopal Goala, son of Samar Goala, member of the Gajna Gram Panchayat in Hanskhali, Nadia, was arrested.

The Calcutta High Court had heard a petition by Anindya Sundar Das and ordered a CBI inquiry on April 12. Das, in his petition, had alleged that the family of the victim had not been allowed to lodge a police complaint till after five days of the incident. That too, the complaint could only be lodged with the help of members of a Non Government Organization (NGO).

On Tuesday, Das filed another petition and got it mentioned for urgent listing through his counsel Phiroze Edulji.

In this petition, Das has submitted media reports and a viral video clip about a certain Afroze Sarkar, president of the Trinamool Congress of the Bhagabangola Block.

It has been alleged in these reports and the video clip that Sarkar threatened people against speaking out about the gangrape.

It has been alleged that he threatened to thrash people who dared to come out and speak about the incident, rendering them immobile.

"In our petition, we have pointed to such acts of coercion. Unless family members of the victim and witnesses receive foolproof protection, they may turn hostile under such pressure. This has happened in many cases. If the CBI is to carry out an independent probe, family members and witnesses have to be granted adequate protection. It has to be ensured by the state and central governments that they come to no harm. They need to be kept away from any contact with the accused. If threats don't work, such thugs resort to a 'settlement', offering money to hush up the matter," Edulji said.

"We have prayed for new identities, including new names, for the family of the victim and witnesses. They also need to be relocated to a place where there is no threat. The State and Centre need to work together here under the Witness Protection Act and prepare new identity documents for them. Unless this happens, criminals can never be convicted," he added.

The matter was mentioned before the Calcutta High Court for urgent listing. The court may take up the matter on Wednesday.

--IANS

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