Protest march in Kolkata against atrocities on women

Kolkata, June 18 (IANS) A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee faced protests while visiting a murdered rape victim's family in North 24 Parganas district, intellectuals Tuesday urged the people to join a march here to protest the rise in crimes against women.

The rally has been planned from the College Square in the the city at 3 p.m. on June 21.

In a letter, noted actors, filmmakers and authors urged the people to condemn the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, irrespective of their political affiliations.

"Not only the administration, but we (the common people) also have to strongly protest against what is happening in the state," said the letter signed by intellectuals like filmmaker Mrinal Sen, writer Mahasweta Devi, actor Soumitra Chatterjee, poet-academic Nabaneeta Dev Sen and poet Tarun Sanyal.

"Of late, it seems that the criminals are thinking that no one can do any harm to them, and on the other hand people are terrified. If the government is still unable to control it (crimes against women) then the entire state will be devastated," the letter said.

Noted Bengali actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty, however, said the proposed march is not "a protest rally" but a way to create awareness.

"This is an awareness march. We are all very tensed about the worsening law and order situation. Every time an assurance is given, a new incident occurs. We have to send a message to the administration that they have to be a bit more aware. We don't want to make it violent," Chakraborty said.

A second-year college student was abducted, gang-raped and killed by a group of youths June 7 when she was returning to her home in Kamduni village near Barasat, some 25 km from here, after appearing in an examination.

Eight people have been arrested for the crime.

In a bid to soothe the victim's family members, Banerjee met them on Monday and assured that the administration would seek death penalty for the culprits.

But when a group of women surrounded her, shouting slogans about the lack of security, the chief minister lost her cool and branded the perpetrators of the crime as well as the protesters as "CPI-M people".

The brutal crime was closely followed by the National Crime Records Bureau's latest report which put Bengal atop the chart with regard to crimes against women. As many as 30,942 such incidents were reported in 2012.

The State Human Rights Commission has also ordered a probe into the incident.

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