A Trinamool leader and three of his accomplices have been accused of gang-raping a woman in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district for demanding that he return "cut money" she had paid in order to be made a beneficiary in a housing scheme.
Citing media reports, the National Commission for Women has asked West Bengal Director General of Police Virendra to intervene in the case.
The term "cut money" refers to illegal commissions allegedly charged by politicians and government officials from people in return for providing them with benefits due to them. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had admitted earlier this year that leaders of her party may have indulged in such activities. "I do not want to keep thieves in my party. Some leaders are claiming 25 per cent commission for providing housing grants to the poor. This should stop immediately. If any of you have taken such money, return it immediately," she had said back then.
According to the police complaint, the 35-year-old woman had given Rs 7,000 in "cut money" to the politician concerned -- panchayat member Mohammed Bulbul Alam -- in order to get a house under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Jalpaiguri district. However, when no house was allotted in six months, she demanded that the money be returned.
Mohammed Bulbul Alam is accused of summoning the woman to his house on August 14, and then sexually assaulting her along with his accomplices. As her husband was away in Bhutan, a social worker helped her file the police complaint five days later.
"The accused is an elected representative who is supposed to safeguard the interests of his people. On the contrary, he has committed two crimes: firstly, of taking a bribe from the people to provide them with benefits of a social scheme, and, secondly, of raping her along with his accomplices," news agency PTI quoted the NCW as saying.
Trinamool district chief Krishan Kalyani said that the law must take its course, but added that he has his suspicions. "Ever since the BJP performed well in the Lok Sabha elections, they have been terrorising our workers. Some BJP leaders were arrested recently, and they are now trying to pay us back in kind. This may have been a pre-planned plot to convince police that a gang-rape took place. Only an investigation will reveal the truth," he said.
All the four accused in the case are absconding. The woman, who has given a statement in this regard in court, is undergoing medical tests in hospital.
(With inputs from PTI)