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23 Feb 2018

CM 'feels' for sisters, raps approach

Mamata Banerjee at the meeting in Raiganj’s Hemtabad on Thursday. Picture by Kousik Sen
KOUSIK SEN, TT, Feb 22, 2018, Raiganj: Sisters Rabia and Amira Khatun said they wanted to meet Mamata Banerjee to seek "exemplary punishment" for their father's killers.

"We wanted to meet her (the chief minister) and appeal for exemplary punishment for all those involved in the murder of our father," said Rabia, who had fallen at the chief minister's feet before being led away while elder sister Amira was stopped near the dais.

Rabia, 24, is currently working as a fourth-grade employee at a government hospital in Islampur, North Dinajpur, the district that also covers Raiganj.

Sources said the siblings' father, Mafizuddin, 60, a farmer, was killed in 2015 during a clash triggered by a land dispute in Rashkhowa, their village in North Dinajpur's Karandighi. Four persons were arrested and the case is pending in court.

Mafizuddin was survived by his 12 children - nine daughters and three sons - and wife Naseda Begum. Rabia, the second among the siblings, finished her graduation from Islampur College, after which got the job following a request to the local administration.

"The administration also got one of her (Rabiya's) brothers admitted to an English-medium school. The family was provided with a house under the Gitanjali scheme (a state government programme for the poor). Despite all this, we fail to understand what made the sisters so desperate to break security and approach the minister," said an official.

The chief minister had herself stressed this when she resumed her speech on Thursday after the interruption caused by the sisters.

"We feel for them. But the administration here has provided them a house and a job to one of the family members. They also get rice at subsidised rates. Even then... if they have any problem... but their approach is incorrect," Mamata said.

Officials suspect the sisters might have been "instigated", particularly after learning that they had visited Nabanna in Calcutta and Mamata's meeting in Malda only two days ago.

"We are talking to them to obtain more information. It is hard to believe they have no idea that the chief minister cannot do anything in a case that is pending before the judiciary," said a source.

Rabia admitted the administration had helped her. "The administration has done a lot for me and my family. We had only come to appeal to the chief minister so that the killers of my father are punished," she said later on Thursday.

Sources said the family was dependent on Rabia's earnings, though they have some agricultural land and are beneficiaries of Khadya Sathi, a food scheme run by the state.

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