Thursday, November 15, 2007

‘I was raped by CPM men, my two girls raped and abducted’

First Nandigram Gangrape Confirmed: Case filed after medical report, victim tells Express chilling story of night of Nov 6

Nandigram, November 15: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee says that what CPM cadres did in Nandigram is "morally and legally justifiable." His comrades in New Delhi today argued that Nandigram is a "state subject" unlike the Gujarat rapes and murders of 2002 and, therefore, could not be discussed in Parliament.

Perhaps, the comrades should listen to Sabina Begum. For, hers is the first officially confirmed case of gangrape allegedly by armed CPM cadres on November 6, during their "Operation Recapture" in Nandigram.

Her two daughters went missing soon after the gangrape that night. In chilling testimony to The Indian Express, Sabina has said that after she was raped, she saw her daughters, Fatima, 16, and Nasreen, 14, raped as well and then abducted by CPM cadres. All the three names have been changed to protect their identities.

This gruesome incident, according to the police complaint, occurred in Satengabari, one of the villages that bore the brunt of the CPM's terror. When The Indian Express visited the village yesterday, it found 160 of the 240 houses either burnt or badly damaged. Most of the residents are huddled in the Brojomohan school relief camp.

"We have initiated a case of rape and I cannot say anything more," said S S Panda, Superintendent of Police, East Midnapore. "Doctors have confirmed that Sabina was raped. I personally took her statement yesterday at the Tamluk sub-divisional hospital. We have registered a case of gangrape against the accused. She has given us names in her statement but I cannot disclose the names right now. We have also attached the case of her two missing daughters with the gangrape case," Champak Chowdhury, Officer-in-Charge of Nandigram police station, told The Indian Express.

"We have had detailed tests done of the patient named Sabina by a gynaecologist. Later, some specimens were sent to the laboratory. Rape has been confirmed," said S Patra, Superintendent of the Tamluk Sub-Divisional hospital.

The Indian Express visited Sabina who is admitted in the "female ward" of the hospital and met her traumatised family members at the relief camp.

"At around 8 that evening, a group of youths knocked at my door and my mother-in-law opened it. Mir Bachchu Sheikh and Mir Kalu, two CPM men whom I knew in the village along with several others, barged in. I tried to run away with my two daughters but was caught in the backyard," Sabina told The Indian Express.

'They dragged me and my daughters near the field. I was raped by eight people including Bachchu and Kalu. I also saw my two daughters being raped by the youths. It continued throughout the night. Then they took my daughters away, dumping me inside the house," said Sabina, in tears.

Sabina says she was locked inside the house for two days. The third night, she managed to escape and came to the Nandigram block hospital where she was admitted. She was later referred to Tamluk sub-divisional hospital.

Meanwhile, Sabina's family is looking for the two missing daughters. "We went to the police and lodged a missing complaint despite threats by CPM cadres. We do not even know if they are alive," said Sheikh Motleb, Sabina's elder brother and neighbour.

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