The Kamduni Judgement

Kamduni has finally got justice. The culprits of the rape and murder of a college girl have been given exemplary punishment by the Calcutta City Sessions Court—three have been given death sentence and three others imprisonment till death—although two persons named in the FIR and charge-sheet have been acquitted, because the police and the CID could not produce credible evidence against them. It is worth mentioning that the acquitted fellows, residents of a nearby village Par Kharibari, are allegedly Trinamul Congress activists, and speculations are naturally rife whether the CID deliberately diluted the evidence against them. It should be noted that a vigorous mass movement for punishment of the guilty continued, despite twists and turns, all along ever since the ghastly and barbaric episode of 7 June 2014.

On that date, a college girl named Sipra Ghosh (West Bengal's Nirbhaya), while returning from college to her village Kamduni, was caught near the bus stop, forcibly taken to a farm house, gang raped and then killed in the most brutal manner imaginable. About three hours later than the due time of her coming home, her mutilated body was found lying outside the wall of the compound. The event raised serious indignation and protests throughout West Bengal. A few days later, the Chief Minister visited the spot, and when two housewives, Mousumi Kayal and Tumpa Kayal, who had walked more than two miles in order to see her and demand exemplary punishment for the culprits, they were rebuked and called Maoists. In truth the movement was a spontaneous mass upsurge, having no political affiliation. A Pratibadi Mancha (protest platform), formed immediately in the wake of the incident, was called a CPI(M)-Maoist affair. Opposition parties actually intervened to cash in on the tragedy in vote market as they are doing now by hailing the judgement. In the last panchayet polls, Kamduni turned its face away from the ruling party. In order to destroy the Manch, a peace committee was floated, Khichdi feasts and football tournaments were arranged to pacify public anger. The brother of the victim was given a petty job, and he swallowed the bait, and for fear of open taunts and sneers from the protesters, settled elsewhere. But the pratibadi manch continued to function despite many desertions, thanks largely to the efforts of the two valiant women, who refused to give up the battle in spite of many lures and threats, and of a teacher named Pradip Mukherjee. And gradually, it was reinvigorated. This put a strong pressure on the administration, the outcome of which has been the judgement of the Calcutta City Sessions Court. The public prosecutor, it appears, acted conscientiously while arguing his case. What stands out in the entire story is the relentless fight of the two ladies, Mousumi and Tumpa, ably assisted by the teacher, who braved all pressures and succeeded in restoring the morale of the protesters. It is clear to all sensible observers of the Kamduni affair that had it not been for the determination shown by these two ladies, the case would most certainly have been put into cold storage, and after a lapse of time, would have receded into oblivion. The two ladies, it should be noted, have not stopped reminding the people of the treatment meted out to them by the Chief Minister, when they first tried to speak to her. It is noteworthy that the Chief Minister, declared during her visit to Kamduni that she would have the culprits hanged within a month. The judicial process, however, took more than 31 months to complete and there is no evidence that the administration did anything to expedite the process of investigation and trial. For the time being, people should stop after expressing their heartfelt admiration for Tumpa and Mousumi. In such cases, justice is often denied to victims owing to the power and influence of the culprits, but here the two valiant warriors have persisted and finally brought victory.

Vol. 48, No. 31, Feb 7 - 13, 2016