Court frames charges of rape, murder in Kamduni case

Kolkata, Sep 10 (IANS) Amid noisy protests and alleged police baton charge, a city court Tuesday framed charges against eight accused in the alleged gang rape and murder of a college girl at Kamduni village in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.

The court framed charges under section 302, 376 A and 376D of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) among others, against eight of the accused who have been arrested three months after the gruesome incident which evoked strong response from the civil society and public at large.

Section 302 relates to murder, and could lead to the death penalty or life imprisonment. 376A carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and deals with inflicting injury during rape which may result in the death of the victim while 376D deals with gang rape.

Incidentally, the charges were framed on a day when a Delhi court convicted four men for the Dec 16, 2012, gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who subsequently died of her grave injuries.

The CID had named nine people in its charge sheet of which one is still at large.

However, under the wrong impression that section 302 had not been slapped on the accused, the victim's family said it was not happy with the "lighter charges" and walked out of the court room.

The family members of the victim had earlier written to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to change the public prosecutors appearing in the case stating they were inexperienced in handling such cases.

A large number of protestors including the victim's family members and Kamduni villagers demonstrated outside the court seeking death penalty (under Section 302) for the accused and a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The protests led to a scuffle with police. Protestors alleged the lawkeepers subsequently resorted to baton charge resulting in injuries to several people including a brother of the victim.

"The brother of the victim was beaten up and many people including women have been detained and brought to the headquarters of the city police," claimed one of the protestors.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) D.P. Singh, however, denied any baton charge on the protestors.

Later, Kamduni Primary School headmaster Pradip Mukerjee admitted the disturbance was sparked off by a misunderstanding.

"A person, who I saw in the court for the first time, claimed the accused have not been charge sheeted under Section 302.

"This created the misusnderstanding as we all got upset and irritated. We should have cross-checked. But police also should have been more cautious," said Mukherjee.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who earlier had asserted that it was her "government's target to ensure the accused get death penalty", during the day hoped for a speedy trial in the case.

"Whatever the CID could do they have done that...I want the judgment to be delivered as early as possible," Banerjee told media persons.

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