January 11, 2014

Madhyamgram Rape-Murder Victim’s Family Meets President, Demands Justice

On January 7, 2014, the father and other family members of Swapna Kumari Jha, the girl who was recently burnt to death after having been subjected to gang rape twice in West Bengal, met the president of India at New Delhi to press the demand that justice be done to the deceased. Led by Sitaram Yechury, leader of the CPI(M) group in Rajya Sabha, a CP(M) delegation accompanied the family. Former Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat, Rajya Sabha member Shyamal Chakraborty, AIDWA general secretary Jagmati Sangwan and SFI joint secretary Shatrup Ghosh were other members of the delegation.  

On this occasion the victim girl’s father presented to the president a petition in Hindi, a free translation of which follows.

“THIS is to state that I, Ramashankar Jha, along with my wife Anita Jha and late daughter Swapna Kumari Jha, came from village Bande, PS Patauri, district Samastipur, Bihar, to Patuli Shivtala, Madhyamgram in Kolkata for a job and began working here as a taxi driver. My father was in government service in Kolkata and drove a government taxi in the Writers Building. He retired from service in 1980. During that period, I was born in this very state.

Sir, I brought my daughter from Bihar to Bengal in order to provide her higher education, as there is provision of education up to Class VI only in our village, Bande.

Sir, with a deep sense of grief I have to tell you that my daughter, Swapna Kumari Jha, was subjected to rape on 25/10/2013. As I said, I am a taxi driver and was out with my taxi in the night when this incident took place. I came home in the morning on 26/10/2013 and then my wife told me that there was no information about our daughter’s whereabouts. I then approached the Madhyamgram police station about it. When I came home back, I saw my daughter had been brought home by some villagers and she told me, with tears in her eyes, that six persons had subjected her to gang rape. Sir, then I went to the police station and filed another report about the rape case. The station in charge then kept my wife and daughter in the police station itself whole day and whole night on 26/10/2013 and allowed me to take them home only at 9.15 p m on 27/10/2013, but without any police protection.

Sir, it was when my daughter was returning home in the evening that some people forcibly took her to a lonely place, raped her and then threw her at the railway track. When the GRP people saw her on the railway track, they brought her to my residence in Patuli Shivtala at about 12 in the night.

After about a month of this incident, I changed my residence in order to save our lives and came to Adhai Number Gate, Motilal Colony, Airport, from Patuli Shivtala in Madhyamgram, on 19/11/2013.

However, our past did not spare us here either and Minta Shil of village Patuli Shivtala, Madhyamgram, and Ratan Shil, the eldest son of our earlier landlady, burnt my daughter alive on 23/12/2013 in our absence.

Sir, our misfortune did not end here either. When my wife took my daughter in a burnt state to R G Kar Hospital, the victim was made to lie on a polythene sheet on the floor in the hospital.

As I had gone to Krishnanagar with a passenger, I could reach the hospital only at 12 in the night, after I was informed that my daughter had been taken to the R G Kar Hospital, in a burnt state.

When I saw my daughter lying on a polythene sheet, I told the doctor that this could cause infection to my daughter, but he told me that the hospital had no burn speciality though they would try to provide her the best possible treatment.      

When I knew that the facilities for burn treatment were lacking in that hospital, I contacted the chief of the SSKM (PG) Hospital for my daughter’s treatment, but he told me that they had no vacant bed at the time but that they would admit my daughter whenever there was a bed. I maintained contact with him, and on 26/12/2013 he finally told that bed number 5 had been vacated in the hospital, that it would be kept reserved for my daughter, but that they would admit my daughter only on the condition that the R G Kar must refer and transfer the case to them.

However, when I told the doctor in R G Kar that I wanted to take my daughter to SSKM (as there are burn specialists there, and as both are government hospitals), he did not agree to refer the case to SSKM, saying that I could take the patient there at my own responsibility and after signing a bond.

Sir, as the SSKM was prepared to admit my child only after a referral but as the R G Kar was not prepared to give it, this legal wrangle between the two deprived me of an opportunity to get my child treated by a burn specialist, and the result was that my daughter died at about 1.40 p m on 31/12/2013.

Sir, after my daughter’s demise, I wanted to keep her body in a Peace Heaven (cold storage), as all the members of my family were to come from Bihar, and I wanted to do the last rites on 01/01/2014, only after their arrival. But when the body was being taken to the Peace Heaven, it was found that it was instead being forcibly taken to Nimtalla Ghat. When my brother, Satya Narayan Jha, saw that the situation was getting serious, when he saw the gundagardi of the police force and realised that these people were in no mood to listen to his pleas and were out to take the body to Nimtalla Ghat, he thought it prudent to jump down the vehicle and run away.

Then the same people finally took the body to Nimtalla Ghat and began to force my family to hand them over the death certificate. At my house, when I repeatedly pleaded that my daughter’s last rites would be performed only after all family members had arrived fromBihar, they began to issue threats from the night of 01/01/2014; in fact from 10 p m itself they began using force in an attempt was to get the cremation done at the earliest. The whole police force too began to threaten us, and it was in their presence that a person came there and threatened that he would get all of us killed in our own house. When I drew the policemen’s attention to how that fellow was threatening us, the policemen showed no intention to do something about it. On the contrary, they too threatened us that we should all leave for Bihar before 12 the same night. When I did not pay any heed to the threat, they began attempts to break our gate, saying that they would break the gate open and force us to come to Nimtalla Ghat along with the death certificate.

When I repeatedly pleaded that my daughter’s body must be brought back from Nimtala to my house, they threatened that they would get the cremation done in the same night, no matter whether we came there or not.

Sir, I again and again repeated my plea and they continued the chain of their threats. They told me that they would not allow me to run a taxi in the Airport area and that it would be better if we did the cremation at the earliest and then left for Bihar.

The whole episode and the threats kept my whole family frightened for the whole night, and I kept praying that God must protect us from these demons as the protectors have themselves become the sources of danger.    

Finally, when the police officers saw that all their game had failed, they brought my daughter’s body to my house in Airport area and began to press us that we must immediately take it to the burning ghat and do the cremation at the earliest.

As our whole family was terror-struck, I pleaded that we would come out only in the morning; we were afraid of the police goons and did not want to come out in the night.

Sir, following my daughter’s death on 31/12/2013, I had sent a letter in the afternoon requesting for a forensic test, but no forensic test has been done even after 12 days have passed since she was put on fire.  

Therefore I request Your Esteemed Self that the whole episode must be probed by the CBI, and due legal actions must be taken against all the culprits, the guilty police officials, guilty hospital authorities and guilty administrative officials at the earliest. I also request that Your Esteemed Self must ensure the safety of our lives and property.” 

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