Tripura minor’s gang-rape: BJP comes out in support of accused minister’s son

Amid severe protests over the gang-rape of a 16-year-old girl in Tripura’s Unakoti district six days back, the ruling BJP Wednesday came out in support of its minister whose son is an accused in the case. The party said the allegations are politically motivated.

The comments came shortly after the state police issued a statement Wednesday saying they have arrested six persons and further investigation is in progress.

The gang-rape issue has been at the centre of protests and political debates for the last few days with both CPI(M) and Congress training their guns at BJP, questioning why one of the accused has not been arrested yet.

In a statement, Tripura Police Assistant Inspector General (Law and Order) Jyotishman Das Chowdhury said the complaint was registered with the police on October 20. Based on preliminary investigation, the police said it came to be known that the gang rape survivor was lured by a girl to her friend’s rented place on October 19, where a party was on.

The minor girl is learnt to have been taken to a separate room where she was offered a drink. Whether the drink was spiked or not was not specified but the police statement said the girl was later gang-raped.

“Police are using scientific aid and other forensic techniques for the investigation. Based on evidence collected, the police arrested 6 (six) persons in connection with the case for their role in commission of the crime,” the police statement reads.

While stating that further investigation is on, the statement added that the police are giving highest priority to prevent crimes on women in the state.

Addressing a media interaction at the BJP state headquarters, senior party leader and Information and Cultural Affairs (ICA) minister Sushanta Chowdhury said the allegations were made with vested interests since the police didn’t find any link between the minister’s son and the gang-rape.

“Six persons have already been arrested. The minister’s son was out of station since October 10, way before the incident occurred. We aren’t like the erstwhile Left Front government, which used to compromise with crimes on women. Our government works for empowerment of women,” Choudhury said.

He further claimed the BJP-led government is involved in a lot of pro-people activities like providing subsidised ration, housing benefits, safe drinking water and electric connection for the common people and claimed this has got the Opposition desperate. “People are with the BJP and we shall surely return to power. So, the Opposition is confusing the people and trying to take advantage,” he said.

The allegation against the minister’s son was levelled by Congress leader Ashish Kumar Saha. Speaking to reporters, Saha had earlier said, “The BJP minister’s son was involved in the incident. No action was taken against him. We think the chief minister himself is well aware of the issue but is staying silent.”

CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury Wednesday took to social media and said the law and order situation is deteriorating in Tripura. He claimed while political attacks on the Opposition parties and their supporters have become common, there has been a sharp rise in crimes on women such as molestations, rapes, gang rapes and murders, in which ruling party workers, even relatives of leaders and ministers are getting involved.

“People are vocal and are demanding the arrest of this man (minister’s son), there have been demands inside the BJP as well. We have come to know through reliable sources that the absconding son of the minister is living inside the official residence of the minister. I urge the state police to search the minister’s quarters and arrest the accused or else the public discontent will spread across the state, including in Agartala,” Chaudhury said.

He also cited a second gang-rape in Khowai district three days back, where a girl, who was out to visit Kali Puja pandals, was abducted and gang-raped. The Communist party leader alleged that the accused persons were local BJP leaders and demanded their immediate arrest.

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