The role of the West Bengal Police in probing the gang rape of a tribal women in Birbhum district came under the scanner after a court Thursday sent 13 accused to judicial custody as the police did not seek their custody and no public prosecutor appeared in the case.
Bolpur Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Pijush Ghosh thus sent the 13 accused to 14 days' judicial custody.
"Neither any public prosecutor appeared nor did police seek custody of the accused, so the court remanded them to judicial custody," said victim's counsel Dilip Ghosh.
While opposition political parties accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of harbouring criminals, the legal fraternity expressed dismay over the development.
"It is unheard of, it is unprecedented. The accused were arrested earlier in the day, how can the police not seek their custody. How can they complete the investigation without interrogating them? It is baffling to say the least," said Calcutta High Court advocate J.N. Chatterjee.
Condemning the development, Congress leader O.P. Mishra termed it a clear case of the state administration being hand in glove with criminals.
"It is a clear case of the state administration being hand in glove with the criminals. It is unfortunate for the state that the ruling party has perfected the horrendous practicing of extending political patronage to criminals. It is the reason why our state tops the country when it comes to crime against women," he said.
Echoing Mishra's views, state Bharatiya Janata Party president Rahul Sinha too accused the Trinamool of harbouring criminals.
"It is not surprising especially when the ruling party has rendered the police a tool to extract political benefits for itself. The Trinamool has been doing so because all the crimes that are happening in the state are engineered by criminals enjoying its patronage," he said.
The incident happened Monday night in Subalpur village in Birbhum, some 180 km from Kolkata. The 20-year-old woman was allegedly raped by more than a dozen men following the orders of a kangaroo court which found her "guilty of having an affair with a man outside her community".