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20 May 2018

Homemaker made to hold ears, squat TMC 'court' suspects support for BJP

The homemaker forced to hold her ears and squat in West Midnapore’s Bagdubi. 
Picture by Saikat Santra 
Anshuman Phadikar, TT, May 20, 2018: Midnapore: A kangaroo court allegedly organised by Trinamul in West Midnapore had a party gram panchayat member's wife paraded with a garland of shoes and squat repeatedly holding her ears for allegedly having backed the victorious BJP candidate.
Kabita Das fainted after being subjected to the humiliation on Friday in Bagdubi at the court allegedly convened by Ashis Patra, the Trinamul booth president, and around 25 others.
Kabita's husband Gopal Das is an outgoing Trinamul member of the panchayat who did not get a ticket this time as the seat was reserved for women. Patra has denied the allegations.
The couple had allegedly thrown their weight behind the BJP's Kajal Chakraborty, who won this time. In the 16-member gram panchayat, the BJP snatched four seats from Trinamul, including Bagdubi. An Independent backed by the Left also won, bringing the Trinamul tally down to 11 from 16 in 2013.
"Because of this baseless allegation, my wife was made to walk through the entire village in full view of around 1,500 people, wearing a garland of shoes before being made to squat holding her ears in front of the Trinamul office," Gopal said on Saturday while on way to lodge a police complaint.

"We kept begging for mercy. Nobody came forward to help. In the end, Kabita fainted. This is the reward we got for years of loyal service to the party," Gopal added.
Chakraborty, the BJP's victorious candidate who was present in the crowd, said he could not come forward to help Kabita out of fear. "Many of us wanted to stop this but none could muster the courage to help. It was a barbaric, medieval torture," Chakraborty said. She attributed the act to Trinamul's "desperation" at having lost the five seats.
Trinamul sources said Kabita had been instrumental in preventing the capture of booths by party activists and threatened to beat up some other workers with a shoe.
"When these things were brought up by the kangaroo court, she apologised unconditionally, saying she had lost her temper because of a misunderstanding that her husband was beaten up by Trinamul leaders on the day of voting," said a source.
Still, Patra, the Trinamul booth president, and the others insisted that the apology was not enough, the source added.
Patra dismissed the allegations as "baseless", claiming ignorance about "any such incident" and saying he was not present anywhere near the party office on Friday.
Trinamul West Midnapore president Ajit Maity said he had "heard of such an incident" was in the process of seeking "reports".

"If such a thing has, indeed, taken place, we will initiate stern and exemplary action. Barbarism will not be tolerated in our party," Maity said.

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