Mamata Banerjee on Hashkhali incident: was it rape or was it about a love affair?

A minor girl was allegedly raped and died on April 5 in Bengal's Hanskhali.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee raised several questions about the alleged rape and death of a minor girl in Nadia’s Hanskhali. At a programme in Kolkata on Monday, she said that the girl had a love affair and it was known by many in the area. “Will you call it rape or a love affair?” she asked. Banerjee also questioned why the complaint was not filed immediately, but five days later. “If there is a love affair between a girl and a boy, I cannot stop it. This is not Uttar Pradesh that I’ll stop it like love jihad,” she said.

Banerjee also said that the death of the young girl is “very unfortunate”, but the “arrest had been made”. The son of a Trinamool Congress gram panchayat member from Hanskhali was arrested on Sunday for the alleged rape of a minor that led to her death on April 5. According to the FIR lodged on Saturday by the girl’s father, the class IX student had gone to attend the birthday party of the Trinamool panchayat member Samar Gaoli’s son Sohel in Hanskhali’s Gajna on Monday, April 4. She returned home in the early hours of Tuesday, severely ill. Her family took her to a local quack but she died soon after. The girl was cremated hastily on the same day at a local crematorium, allegedly under pressure from the Gaoli family. It is also alleged that Sohel had threatened the girl’s family about taking her to a government hospital or reporting the matter to police. However, the family reported the matter to police with the help of the Nadia district Childline.

There are conflicting reports on whether the girl was at the party alone or accompanied by others. There are allegations that the girl was dropped home by a woman and unidentified men.

An FIR has been registered for rape of a minor, murder and destruction of evidence and provisions of the POCSO Act. An accused has been detained. Police has said that all angles are being probed, including why there was a four-day delay in lodging the FIR.

Banerjee today asked “where the evidence will come from if the body has been cremated”. She also said that Trinamool Congress should not be “dragged into” everything. “Everyone is Trinamool Congress in Bengal. And the person has been arrested and for that the political colour has not been checked,” she said.

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