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West Bengal Tribal Women Crawling case – SC/ST Act invoked, local TMC leader among two held in Balurghat

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Kolkata. Police detained two people under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, among other provisions, seven days after the three tribal women were forced to crawl and perform “Dandavat Parikrama” in Balurghat, West Bengal. This inhuman incident occurred on April 7 to counter the local BJP unit programme in which around 100 people, mostly women, joined BJP. This was a punishment given for joining BJP. The victims were made to crawl from the BJP office to the TMC office in Balurghat. Those arrested are Biswanath Das, an aide of Paradipta Chakraborty, former district Mahila Trinamool Congress, and Ananda Roy, general secretary of Balurghat Town Trinamool Youth Congress.

Sajal Ghosh, the public prosecutor at Balurghat district court, said, “Two persons were arrested in this case (and) booked under IPC Sections 505 (incitement), 509 (insulting the modesty of women) and SC, ST Atrocities Act. They were produced in court and remanded to judicial custody. They will be produced in court again on April 17”. Section 3(1)(r) of the SC and ST Atrocities Act deals with purposefully insulting or intimidating a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to humiliate them in any place in public view, is also invoked, among other sections. It is alleged that both the culprits confined their victims before making them join TMC. The three tribal women, Martina Kisku, Thakran Soren, and Shiuli Mardi, were allegedly shown crawling in a 27-second video from the BJP to the TMC headquarters in Balurghat as “penance” for joining the party, insisting they were never with the BJP. The action came a day after Miranda Ingudam, the director of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, wrote a letter to Manoj Malviya, the director general of police in West Bengal, demanding a thorough report within 72 hours. The commission also expressed to investigate the incidence under Article 338 A of the Indian Constitution. This article exclusively deals with National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

As a result of the act being caught on camera, there was a great deal of resentment. Sukanta Majumdar, the state BJP chairman, wrote to the president, Droupadi Murmu, and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. The former president of the district TMC women’s wing, Pradipta Chakraborty, told the media that the three women were doing “penance” by performing the “parikrama” and re-joining TMC as they were being misled to join BJP.

For damage control, TMC replaced Pradipta with Snehalata Hembrom within two days of the incident. Kunal Ghosh, a TMC spokesperson, told reporters in Kolkata that the party supported the dignity of women and tribals and vehemently opposed any move that may diminish their honour. He also said, “We condemned the action (of Pradipta) and removed her from the post. Appointment of Hemborm, a hard-working popular tribal woman leader of the district, reaffirms our commitment to the cause of Adivasi women”.

In reaction to the arrest, Swarup Chowdhury, BJP district president, said, “To shield the main culprit, police have arrested the small fry. Why is the main culprit not arrested by police? We will continue our agitation until the main culprit is arrested.”

Tribal leader Sengal Abhiyan called these arrests an eyewash and called for a strike on April 17.

It is alleged that ‘Dandavat Parikrama’ was carried out by the local TMC leadership as a ‘demonstration of strength.’

Even the victim Shiuli’s husband, Rajen, who has been a TMC member since 2013, was pressurised from the upper hierarchy of the party. This act has triggered widespread outrage, and it would be interesting to see the administration’s reaction against the main culprits.

Courtesy – Organiser


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