We the undersigned express our deep shock and outrage at the incident of gangrape in rural Howrah, West Bengal, on 4th February, where two women supporters of the main opposition party, CPIM, were reportedly gangraped by 8 cadres of the ruling Trinamool Congress. While seven of the accused have been arrested, the eighth person named in the FIR, Barun Makal, who is an election agent of a TMC MLA, is still absconding.
This incident comes as the latest in a series of horrific rapes in West Bengal, where the Government has displayed its utter insensitivity and lack of political will to the plight of women, and has protected the accused.
There have also been a series of instances of violent assaults by ruling party cadres on supporters and activists of Left parties.
The latest horror from Howrah is clearly an instance of rape being used as a tool of political vendetta. We condemn this incident and demand that the accused be arrested and punished.
We support the ongoing struggles in West Bengal for accountability of the State in all instances of violence towards women. Impunity to perpetrators of rape breeds even more violence against women, and it is urgent for the State to accept its responsibility to end this impunity and act swiftly to ensure justice in all cases of rape.
Signatories include Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA), Subhashini Ali (AIDWA), Kavita Srivastava (PUCL), Ranjana Padhi (WSS), Ulka Mahajan (NAPM), Paramjeet (PUDR), Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD), Akbar Chawdhary ( JNUSU President), Sucheta De (AISA), Jean Dreze, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Amit Bhaduri, Seema Mustafa, Anand Patwardhan, Antara Dev Sen, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawed Naqvi, Jyoti Punwani, Uma Chakravarti, Mallika Sarabhai, Badri Raina, Pamela Philipose, Madhu Bhaduri, Prabhat Patnaik, Utsa Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh and others.