Cops doubt husband claim

Police on Monday tried to pick holes in the statements of the husband of the 45-year old woman who had allegedly been gang-raped and murdered in Barasat, amid allegations that the sleuths were trying to toe the line of their political masters.

"We have interrogated the husband thrice and found some inconsistencies in his statements about why he had left home on Saturday night. He also claimed that some people had sprinkled acid on him but we are yet to be sure whether that is true. Besides, we are yet to get any clinching evidence of any sexual assault on the woman," an officer of Barasat police station said on Monday.

The complaint lodged by the couple's elder son states the woman was gang-raped near home on Saturday night after she went out looking for her husband.

"My father had, meanwhile, returned and left again in search of my mother," the son had said.

The man saw his wife being sexually assaulted by a gang near a pond in the brick kiln where the couple worked, according to the complaint. When he tried to rescue his wife, the gang allegedly threw a chemical into his eyes and forced it into his mouth as well.

The couple were taken to hospital, where the wife was declared dead and the husband was admitted. He was later shifted to RG Kar hospital.

The police cited the husband's inability to name any of the alleged attackers and say how many of them were present as instances of "inconsistencies" triggering doubts about the authenticity of his statements.

Insiders said such statements by cops ' none, however, was willing to go on record ' suggest attempts to build a case on the lines of what urban development minister Firhad Hakim had said on Sunday.

"Barasat's incident is nothing but an outcome of a domestic feud," Hakim had said, sparking protests from all sections of society which viewed the minister's statement as one more example of the tendency of the political class to give a verdict even before the probe is over.

A woman's complaint of being gang-raped in a moving car in the Park Street area in February had prompted chief minister Mamata Banerjee to dub it a "sajano ghotona (fabricated incident)" even before an inquiry could start. The police finally filed the rape charge in the case.

In the Barasat case, Metro has learnt that the cops have arrived at a preliminary conclusion in haste.

"The body was covered in mud and it could not be ascertained whether the woman had been sexually assaulted," said an official of the health department which received a post-mortem report on Monday.

"The post-mortem report ' prepared in record time by Barasat District Hospital ' was inconclusive. The findings of the forensic test are pending," said an officer.

Sources said forensic experts had found eight injury marks and several scratch marks on the body.

"The medical examinations and circumstances strongly suggest that the woman was sexually assaulted. While rape has not been established yet, there is no clinching evidence to suggest that she wasn't raped," said a police source.

As for the alleged attack on the husband, a doctor at RG Kar said: "The wounds are raw and we need more time before detailed examinations could be conducted. It seems the injuries in and around his mouth are caused by an acid."

A youth Mohammad Ishaq Ali was arrested on Sunday in connection with the case.

The CID took over the case on Monday. "It is too early to say whether the woman had been raped or not," said additional director-general of police, CID, Sivaji Ghosh.

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