Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rape victim refuses to give up fight

Kajari Bhattacharya
NANDIGRAM, Nov. 24: After being “gang-raped” on 14 March in Nandigram, and after facing months of mental torture from her husband and neighbours; even after her husband was allegedly abducted and beaten by CPI-M cadres in a recent violence, Ms Prabha Jana (name changed) still finds the strength to fight against “CPI-M-sponsored terror”.
Her face is one among the many that can be seen on the platform at Metro Channel beside social activist Ms Medha Patkar.
Before the incidents that began on 3 January, Ms Jana was just another village woman, tilling her land and reaping her crop. But the horror that became a part of her life from 14 March onwards has turned her into a fiery activist. “Even if the same thing happens to me again (gang-rape), I will continue to fight for my land,” Ms Jana said as she stood outside her house in a Nandigram village. Though the government did not offer any compensation to people injured in the March carnage or to victims of gang-rape until the 16 November High Court ruling, many social organisations had come together to offer compensation to rape victims.
"The Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee opened a bank account in Ms Jana’s name and deposited a few thousand rupees,” said Ms Anuradha Talwar, president of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity. Soon after, she face torture from her husband and neighbours. “He tells me to go back to the people who raped me. He uses terrible language; calls me a whore. My neighbours do the same, and tell me 'are you going to take all the money? Go back to the people who gave you the money then'. I don't even know what money they are talking about,” she said. A neighbour alleged: “It is the money her husband and neighbours are after. They are angry because they can't get their hands on her money.” In the latest round of violence in Nandigram, Ms Jana's husband was allegedly abducted by CPI-M goons when he went to Khejuri to meet his relatives.
He was allegedly beaten and was missing for days. “On Wednesday, Ms Jana’s husband, Mr Swapan Jana (name changed) was let go of from Khejuri. But not before he was beaten,” Mr Swadesh Das, BUPC leader, said. Ms Jana is flitting between Kolkata and Nandigram, raising her voice at congregations against the atrocities perpetrated by CPI-M cadres. “Ms Jana is a determined woman. She comes to this congregation despite the fact that she has not yet recovered from the trauma. She suffers from abdominal cramps and is under medication,” said Mr Sanjay Mitra, a member of the Torture Victims Support Forum, 23 of whose members are on hunger strike at Metro Channel against atrocities in Nandigram. He added that Ms Jana's older son was still in hiding.”