The state police of the eastern city of Kolkata has been facing severe criticism over their handling of the death of a gang-rape victim.
Clashes broke out between the police and members of the main opposition Communist Party of India (CPM) in Kolkata over the death of a 16-year-old girl. The girl, who was raped twice in a span of two days in October end, died on NewYear’s eve in a mysterious fire.
Local TV network, NDTV, quoted police as saying that the girl was pregnant.
“Brutalised in death, too”, read the state’s leading newspaper, The Telegraph.
Protests erupted when the police tried to stop the victim’s father from holding a condolence rally and cremate his daughter’s body.
The police have been accused of forcefully trying to cremate the body without the family’s consent, according to agency reports.
The girl was admitted in a city hospital with body burns where she died on late on Tuesday.
Earlier reports suggested that the girl had been shamed by the rapists to take the extreme step of attempting to immolate herself. They had threatened the family if they reported the crime to authorities.
However, on January 1 fresh reports quoted a top police official that the girl had been set on fire by two of her perpetrators.
The girl’s family alleged that the police stopped the funeral procession and “confiscated” the body for a few hours after insisting that it should be cremated at a place of their choice. The police have denied the allegations.
“The government is trying to shield goons,” said Brinda Karat, a Left party leader.
The girl’s body was released early on Wednesday and the funeral procession was marked by protestors holding placards condemning the police and the state government’s apathy.
The mysterious manner in which the police tried to thwart the procession has raised questions about who could have tried to buy the silence of the aggrieved family.
The ruling Trinamool party has accused the Left party of turning a tragedy into politics.
The chief minister of neighbouring Bihar state has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh ($ 1,618) for the family as they are from the state.
This incident along with the infamous February 2012 Park Street rape has brought shame to the city considered safest for women in India.