The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has been up-in-arms to further their political campaign at the expense of the victim in the Hathras case. Taking a cue from Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, despite Section 144 still being in place, a four-member delegation of the Trinamool Congress, led by senior party leader Derek O’Brien was en route to Hathras on Friday to express their solidarity with the victim’s family when they were stopped by the police from entering the village.
While they have jumped into the case where the rape has not been confirmed yet, the party had earlier resorted to slut-shaming, character assassination and even downplaying cases of sexual assault in West Bengal by labelling allegations as ‘political conspiracy’. One such example is that of the party’s reaction to the Park Street rape case.
TMC resorts to victim blaming, dismissing rape charges in Park Street case
An Anglo-Indian woman, by the name of Suzette Jordan, was raped in a moving car by five men on February 6, 2012, when she was returning home from Park Street in Kolkata. Soon after the news surfaced, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had absolved the accused of all charges. She had dubbed the incident as ‘shajano ghotona‘ (concocted incident) that was allegedly ‘designed to malign the government.’
While speaking to a news channel, TMC MP Kakoli Ghose Dhastidar had cast aspersions on the character of the victim and also ruled out the rape angle. She had stated, “If you are referring to the Park Street case, see that’s a different case altogether. It’s not at all a rape case. It was a misunderstanding between two people in a professional dealing between the lady and her client.”
At the same time, the then Transport Minister had also questioned the victim’s character and called the complaint fake. 3 years later in 2015, a Kolkata Court upheld the rape charges in the Park Street case and found accused Nasir Khan, Ruman Khan and Sumit Bajaj guilty.
Rape is due to modernisation and increasing population, claimed Mamata Banerjee
During another rape case in Burdwan’s Katwa in the same year, Mamata Banerjee again dismissed the rape allegations, even before the investigation was concluded. “A political party is doing all this, shouting rape. They are playing this drama. Harmader diye natok shajachhe jatey Banglar nam kharap hochhe (They are staging an act to give a bad name to West Bengal)”, she was heard as saying.
In 2013, during a debate in the West Bengal legislative assembly about the rising cases of rapes in the State, the CM had insinuated that it was due to an increase in the population of the State. She had also blamed modernisation, increase in shopping malls and multiplexes for rising rape cases.
While the Trinamool Congress is desperately trying to portray itself as a ‘crusader of justice’ in the Hathras case, the track record of the party on sensitive issues such as rape raises serious questions.
Arvind Kejriwal targets Yogi government
On Friday, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, along with other AAP leaders, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar against the government. While demanding capital punishment for the accused, he stated, “The entire country is demanding strictest punishment for the accused. Hang them so that such an incident is never repeated in the country. Some people feel attempts are being made to shield the accused… The family has just lost their daughter. They need sympathy, support from governments and society. But the kind of treatment meted out to them is wrong.
Alleging coverup in the case, Kejriwal stated,”The recent developments in the Hathras gang rape incident give a sense that there is an attempt to cover up. For many days FIR was not registered; then proper care (to the deceased) was not given. When she succumbed, her body was cremated at night. And now they are saying there was no rape.”