Attempted Gang Rape by BSF Men: OMCT Demands Action against West Bengal Police for Inaction

What should have a victim of attempted gang rape done after the incident? She should have gone to the local police seeking action against the culprits. What should the police have done on receipt of the information? It should have registered a case and taken prompt action against the accused. A married woman of village Kulnandapur under West Bengal’s Bagdah Police Station was the victim of attempted gang rape by four uniformed men of BSF in the night of 24 April; but the police is reluctant to take action against the culprits as yet despite complaints lodged by the victim in person.

Expressing deep concern over the police inaction, the International Secretariat of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) has issued the following statement.

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about the alleged rape attempt, sexual harassment and beatings of a 45-year-old married woman[1] from the village of Kulnandapur.

According to the information received, on 24 April 2010 around 3:00am, the victim and her husband were at their residence keeping their firewood in a safe place to protect it from the rain when four agents from the Border Security Force (BSF) approached and asked the victim if she had seen any person passing by. When she answered that she had not seen anyone, she was allegedly hit with a baton by one of the BSF agents. She was then reportedly stifled and forcibly dragged to a nearby primary school. The BSF agents reportedly started to sexually harass her and beat her while she was trying to restrict them. According to the victim’s testimony, the BSF agents tried to rape her. Afterwards, she was allegedly left injured and in bad conditions at the roadside.

According to the same information, on the morning of that same day, the victim and her family members lodged a complaint at the Bagdah Police Station. The complaint was reportedly registered as a General Diary Entry (GDE) and not treated as a criminal case even if it met the requirements to be treated as such. As of issuing this urgent appeal, the police have not taken any other action to investigate the case.
Subsequently, the victim was reportedly taken to the Bagdah Hospital for medical treatment, but she was then referred to a Hospital in Bongaon, where she was admitted and got medical treatment. The victim is allegedly suffering severe mental trauma.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned about the physical and psychological integrity of the victim and about the lack of action in initiating a proper investigation into the above-mentioned allegations. OMCT fears that the perpetrators may enjoy impunity. Indeed, OMCT has reported several cases in which local police having jurisdiction along the Indo-Bangladesh border have consistently avoided taking any action against the BSF whenever a crime is reported against a BSF officer at the police station.

OMCT recalls that according to article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which India is a party, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover, according to article 4(c) of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, States should “exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.”

Accordingly, OMCT calls on the competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the alleged rape attempt, sexual harassment and beatings, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law. OMCT also calls on the relevant authorities to issue measures of protection and to provide the victim with medical assistance.

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