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Massive protests in Bengal against assault and murder of class 11 girl

IndiaMassive protests in Bengal against assault and murder of class 11 girl

The attempted rape and murder of a class 11 school student in the Matigara region of Siliguri, located in North Bengal, sparked protests in the area.

There was a total bandh in Siliguri with shutdown of all educational institutions and shops due to the murder of the girl.  A mob vandalized the residence of the prime suspect, a 22-year-old named Md Abbas, who was apprehended on Wednesday, several hours after the crime took place on Monday.  The crime indicently took place at around 10 a.m. in a forested area as the girl, 17-year-old Diya Pradhan in Class 11 was walking home from school.

After her body was discovered, police got leads into Md. Abbas and came to arrest him, mobs came to smash his home. Some neighboring houses were also subjected to damage, as stated by an anonymous police officer.

Protesters clashed with law enforcement personnel at multiple locations, as captured in video footage by Raju Bista (X). In response, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has announced a 12-hour local shutdown on the upcoming Thursday.

“The situation required a substantial police presence to disperse the mob. VHP activists engaged in confrontations with the police across various areas,” the unidentified police official remarked.

 

The murder of the 17-year-old student, namely Diya Pradhan has triggered widespread condemnation throughout the hilly region. The victim, dressed in school uniform, was discovered deceased in a secluded spot within the Matigara area by local residents. Preliminary investigations suggest that she lost her life during a sexual assault attempt, revealed Abhishek Gupta, the deputy commissioner of police in Siliguri, on Tuesday.

Abbas was taken into custody late Monday night from his residence in the local Lenin Colony. On Tuesday, citizens staged a demonstration outside the Siliguri court, where they also confronted the accused during his transfer to the court.

Various organizations across Siliguri, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and other parts of north Bengal have organized rallies demanding severe punishment for the accused, who is presently in police custody. Prominent figures including Anit Thapa, the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), and Raju Bista, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha representing Darjeeling, have called for a swift and thorough police investigation.

Veering to add political strains to it, sharing a video on X (formerly known as Twitter), Bista said, “It’s deeply unsettling to witness WB Police personnel targeting the press and resorting to violence against them for covering the protest in Siliguri against the murder of a school student. Is this how the Mamata Banerjee Government intends to suppress news regarding protests against this heinous murder of our daughter?”

Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the commissioner of Siliguri police, highlighted that the post-mortem report of the victim is pending and the ongoing law and order disturbances are impeding the progress of the investigation.

Gupta described the accused’s actions, stating, “The suspect used a brick to strike the victim’s head, a brick that was later found at the crime scene.”

Abbas was apprehended following a review of security camera footage in the vicinity. During interrogation, he claimed to have known the victim for a few weeks; however, both the investigating officers and certain teachers from her school expressed doubts about his assertion.

A review of some of the CCTV footage revealed that the accused was seen riding his bicycle alone in one instance, while in another clip from a different location, the victim was seen as a pillion rider. It should be noted that the authenticity of these videos cannot be confirmed.

A teacher from the girl’s school recounted, “The victim was walking home with another female student after school, who informed us that the suspect was trailing them and engaging in inappropriate behavior.  The two girls separated at City Center, while the victim continued on alone towards her home which is near the forest.

Goutam Deb, the former state tourism minister and mayor of Siliguri, denounced the incident as deeply disgraceful. “We maintain our trust in the judicial system, and justice will be served for the victim and her family. Entities like the VHP consistently attempt to disrupt the peace of Bengal,” remarked the Mayor.

Local residents discovered the girl’s body in the wooded area in Matigara. Law enforcement mentioned that a brick, presumably utilized to fatally injure the young girl by striking her head, was also located at the scene.

The accused individual was apprehended from his residence on Monday night and has been placed under police custody for a period of two weeks, according to authorities.

The funeral procession was held today with family members crying bitterly amid the streaming public walking alongside the hearse.  It is quite rare to see these kinds of rapes and murders in Siliguri, so this crime has shocked the society with an outpouring of anger toward the perpetrator, demanding that he be hanged.  The extreme right-wing factions are trying to make it communal rather than marking it as a horrific crime that certainly needed the strongest punishment, considering Pratima was a minor.

A case was registered against him under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and attempt to rape charges and sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

Notably, Amit Shah had recently tabled the death sentence for rape or murder of a minor.

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