A 14-year-old girl succumbed to burn injuries in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district on Monday after fighting for life for 11 days. The girl had allegedly set herself on fire after she was pressured to withdraw a police compliant regarding a rape attempt on her.
The development triggered outrage in social and political circles with questions being raised on the law and order situation in the State. Family members including father of the deceased have alleged that proper investigation was not being done and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The alleged assault on the girl occurred at Maynaguri in Jalpiaguri district on February 24. The accused, a local was arrested on the allegation of the girl. But after a few weeks, he was granted bail. Family members of the girl alleged that on April 13, the accused threatened the girl to withdraw the police complaint. The following day on April 14, the girl set herself on fire. Authorities of the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, where the girl was undergoing treatment, said the girl had suffered 60% burns and she died at 5 a.m. on Monday.
Senior police officers of Jalpaiguri district said four accused were arrested and sent to judicial custody. The development comes at a time when the CBI, on the directions of the Calcutta High Court, is investigating rape and subsequent death of a Class IX girl at Hanskhali in Nadia district. The High Court has directed two senior women officers to supervise investigation in six cases of sexual assault reported in the past few weeks across several districts of the State.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Md. Salim said that if the police had acted in time the girl at Maynaguri would have been alive. Mr. Salim alleged that there was an “ecosystem” in the State which was encouraging perpetrators to commit crime against women. The State BJP pressed for a CBI probe into the matter.
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