A 19-year-old girl, whose alleged faults included dressing like a boy, riding a cycle and cutting her hair short, was tonsured, stripped and paraded in a village in West Bengal's Nadia district village on Sunday for refusing to snap relations with her childhood friend, who got married recently.
Tapati Biswas (name changed) was also beaten up and photographed, minus her clothes, by Ramkrishna Maitra and his family, who invited the village to “check whether she is a girl at all”.
Tapati and Maitra’s daughter lived a few houses away from each other at Garapota village in Hanskhali, about 70 km from Calcutta, till Parvati got married in a neighbouring locality.
They had studied in the same local school till Class XII, after which Tapati quit studies and Parvati became a housewife.
Maitra, who was picked up by the police from his house today, said pressure from his daughter’s in-laws had forced him to ask Tapati to stop visiting her new home. But she had refused to listen to him.
His wife Shephali, 35, brother Tarak, 30, and mother Kusum, 70, who were part of the gang, have fled the village.
“Tapati looks like a boy and that made Parvati’s husband and in-laws angry. They vented their ire on Parvati’s father Ramkrishna a couple of days ago,” said Nadia additional superintendent of police Subrata Maitra.
Villagers said she “led a boy’s life”. She has “very short hair and wore pants”, the police said. Tapati was often seen at the village tea stall or speeding in her bicycle.
Last week, Parvati’s husband Gurupada and his father Nirapada beat up Tapati for trying to meet her. “They asked Ramkrishna to either prevent the girl from coming there or take back Parvati,” Maitra added.
Ramkrishna, a building contractor, called Tapati to his house yesterday. When she tried to reason with him and asked why she should be prevented from meeting her best friend, Ramkrishna told her she was “not a girl”.
“Tapati snapped back, saying she would not follow his diktat,” said an officer of the Hanskhali police station.
Then the Maitras pounced on her. Tapati was dragged to the village square and humiliated. There were scores of onlookers but none of them came to her aid.
Aparesh Das, the deputy chief of the CPM-controlled Garapota village panchayat, said he was away on party work. “Many villagers were shocked. But they did not want to be dragged into controversy,” he added.
Tapati, who was tied to a post, was released over two hours later when the Maitras probably thought she had suffered enough.
The girl who lost her father five years ago ran home to her mother without clothes. Unnati, a farm hand, was far from the heart of the village when her daughter was being tortured.