In a shocking and gut wrenching incident, an 18-year-old pregnant woman lost her foetus after being forced to do sit-ups and thrashed by a ‘kangaroo court’ merely for marrying a man of her choice.
The inhuman treatment was meted out to her for allegedly “bringing disrepute” to the village.
The ghastly incident took place in Uttar Ranichak village of East Midnapore near the industrial town of Haldia, West Bengal on November 27.
An FIR has been filed against the two people who convened the meeting: village head Sheikh Rabiul Mullick and secretary Sheikh Ashraf Ali, said a police official.
The teen who was two months pregnant suffered miscarriage after she was forced to do sit-ups and kicked brutally in abdomen as a punishment for marrying the love of her life.
“I told them if I have done anything wrong, I am ready to apologise. They beat up my parents and my younger brother also. I told them I am unwell, two months pregnant, but they refused to hear my pleas. I was forced to do sit-ups. I couldn’t and fainted and they said this is drama. Then two of them dragged me and started kicking me in the stomach and beat me up mercilessly,” said the teen recollecting the horror.
Questioning the atrocities in the name of custom and the right to personal choice, she says,”What is my fault? I married a man of my choice.”
The self-appointed ‘court’ was convened at night to decide the punishment for breaking the custom of the village. The meeting stretched from 9:30 pm to 20 minutes past midnight on Tuesday.
The family has been under constant threat from the village men since the two got married. “We will evict you and your family from the village, the men kept warning,” wrote the victim’s mother. “If your daughter and son-in-law set foot in our village, we will not let them return.”
“They got married three months ago. We agreed to the affair after initial resistance, but the village elders could not,” said the mother of the victim.
The husband of the victim is about 21 years old and is a carpenter while her father is a daily-wage labourer.
The three-page complaint lodged by the victim’s mother reports her daughter was tortured as a part of punishment and robbed off 12 gram gold chain she wore. The village headman present at the spot ordered it, she added.
The complaint mentions the names of five accused including village headman, secretary and three other witnesses.
“She was directed to do 25 sit-ups. But after 9 to 10 sit-ups she lost consciousness and fell on the ground. Mullick and Ali asked three persons to beat her up . They rained blows on her and kicked her in the stomach,” read the complaint.
The woman was taken to the near-by primary health centre by the villagers after the torture. However, as her condition worsened, she was rushed to the Haldia sub-divisional hospital. She suffered terrible pain in the lower abdomen and lost the foetus.
The victim is still in the hospital. “I have deposited all medical records of the hospital along with my complaint,” said the mother of the victim.
“The family members filed a complaint. Efforts are on to trace the accused. None have been arrested yet,” Tanmoy Mukherjee, Sub Divisional Police Officer.
The accused have fled and we are investigating the allegations, he added.
According to reports, sections including 313 (causing miscarriage without women’s consent), 314 (death caused by act done with intent to cause miscarriage), 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code have been booked against the accused as per the family’s complaint.
“It’s a serious allegation. I have asked the police to take prompt action,” said Sanjay Sikdar, block development officer of Sutahata.
BJP district president Pradip Das said, “The police should take strong action.”
“It is a dastardly act. We have told the police to arrest the culprits immediately,” said block Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Mainuddin. He denied that Mullick and Ali had any links with the ruling party.
Bengal is one of the worst offenders in the country since 2012. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, the Bengal accounted for 11.31%, 10.11% and 9.6% of all the crime against women in the country in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.