29 March 2012

Despite Sangrampur, Police Protects Illicit Liquor

Despite the spurious, illicit hooch tragedy in Sangrampur of South 24 Parganas in which 148 persons lost their lives, illicit liquor continues to flourish in the same district. Its latest victim is Maya Patra, a young 19-year-old housewife of   Village Nonapota Narayanpur 4 No Gheri, PS Kakdwip. Last night when she was on her way to the fields to relieve herself, she was abducted by six henchmen of the liquor dealers. She was taken to a nearby paan baroj where the men attempted to forcibly gang-rape her. 

Maya received this punishment because her in-laws have been actively opposing illicit liquor in their village. Nonapota has the biggest illicit hooch manufacturing units in the Kakdwip subdivision. The hooch manufacturers here flourish because they have lucrative markets in the neighbouring areas of Pathar Pratima and Kakdwip, as well as tourist areas like Fraser Ganj and Bakkhali . Chief amongst the manufacturers are Sunil Mondal and Kangal Pramanick, both residents of the same village.  

Aloka Patra, Maya’s mother in law has been actively opposing the liquor dens in her village, as they are just opposite her house and drunken men often tease their women folk. About a year ago, Aloka got fed up of the constant harassment. She went on the warpath and led a group of half a dozen women in breaking the illicit liquor dens and burning the liquor. A boycott was organised against her by the liquor manufacturers, and she was being pressured to pay Rs 80,000 as “compensation” for the loss she had caused. The police refused to help her, though she tried to file a case against the liquor manufacturers. Instead, the police would go to the village every time she complained to take money from the liquor manufacturers.  
Aloka finally came to the Shramajivi Mahila Samity(SMS) for help. The SMS organised a meeting on the issue in the village, only to find that the liquor lords and their henchmen had surrounded them and were forcing them to make a settlement fining Aloka. The activists had to finally be rescued by a police team.
After the Sangrampur incident , SMS once again pressured the police to break the liquor manufacturing units. This only led to the police taking some cosmetic action and being paid some more money. About two weeks ago, Aloka Patra and her husband were again attacked by the henchmen of the liquor lords. Aloka’s husband was hospitalised with a head injury, but there was no action from the police.

On 28 March 2012, there was again an altercation between Aloka’s daughter-in-law Maya and six henchmen of the liquor lords. To teach Aloka, Maya and their family a lesson, they abducted her and gagged her, before attempting to rape her. She however managed to raise a hue and cry, hearing which her husband and mother-in-law and other neighbours rushed to her rescue. Biswanath, Aloka’s husband, received a head injury in the process and has had to be hospitalised.
Since yesterday SMS activists and Maya’s family have been desperately trying to file an FIR and get the six criminals arrested. So far, they have only received assurances of action from the Officer in Charge, the Sub divisional Police Officer and the Additional SP (Rural) of the district. The Mahila Samity is demanding immediate arrest of the six criminals and the liquor lords, and the breaking of the liquor manufacturing units. If this action is not forthcoming, the Kakdwip police station will be gherao-ed on 31 March 2012.

Asta Bala Maity
Shramajivi Mahila Samity, G3 Balaka Apartments, 348 Basunagar, Madhyamgram

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