A delegation of the AIFAWH West Bengal unit went to the village where Dipali Giri, an anganwadi worker was stripped, paraded naked, gang raped and hacked to death and her body hung on a tree in Sunia village, Kanthi, East Midnapur, West Bengal on 18 August 2014. The delegation included Ratna Dutta, Secretary CITU and AIFAWH and General Secretary WB state ICDS Workers Union (CITU), Manisha Chakraborty, Molina Ghosh members of the Working Committee of AIFAWH and leaders of the Union, Sabita Bhattacharjee, secretary, East Midnapur district committee of the union, Mita Ghosh, Hararama Manna, Sandhya Hazra, Gowri Guha and Nandita Sarkar, all state committee members of the union.

The delegation first visited her husband and son who have been forced to stay away from their home since 2011 and then went to Sunia village on 23 August 2014. There was an atmosphere of terror in the village, with the villagers terrorized by the local Trinamool goons. They met her aged father and mother-in-law, who were not allowed to even purchase food items.

The mother in law narrated the horrifying incident to the delegation. Dipali was dragged out of her room where she was doing some official work of the registers of her anganwadi centre. They had beaten her with a thick wooden stick demanding either an amount of Rs 15 lakhs or to produce her husband. When she could not do either of these they tortured her, pounding needles into her head and in her nails. Bleeding heavily, she ran out and jumped into a nearby pond. The goons dragged her out of the water, stripped her and paraded her naked around the village. Then she was gang raped, hacked to death and she was hung from a tree. There were around fifty people in that gang and none in the village dared to stop them.

The delegation went inside the room of Dipali. The anganwadi registers and a pen with which she was writing were still lying on her cot.

The delegation gave rice, pulses and other basic food items and some clothes to her in laws. After seeing a group of women some of the terror stricken village women came out and spoke to them. They expressed their helplessness and felt sorry that none of them could save her.

The Union sought the governor’s intervention to get justice for Dipali. Since nobody was arrested in the case, a CITU delegation met the Police Superintendant and demanded the arrest of the culprits. They also met the in laws of Dipali and the villagers. Later four of the accused were arrested.

AIFAWH had given a call for wide protest actions all over the country. Anganwadi Workers and Helpers all over the country were agitated and they took to the streets. In Karnataka, the state rally held on the occasion of the all India Workshop passed a resolution condemning the incident and demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment to the culprits and safe environment for work for the anganwadi employees in West Bengal.

In Kerala the state union organized protest demonstrations in 119 projects. In Assam the union sent a memorandum to the Chief Minister of West Bengal. In Tripura, the union and state CITU organized protest demonstration in Agartala. In Maharashtra, a protest demonstration was organized on 5th September in Mumbai. In Tamil Nadu demonstrations were organized in many districts. In Chattisgarh a dharna was organized on 24th Augufst in Rajnandgaon, in which around 200 anganwadi employees participated.

AIFAWH and WB state ICDS Union decided to continue the struggle for protection and a safe working environment for anganwadi workers and helpers in West Bengal.

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