Agartala: A senior Congress leader on Thursday alleged that a minister of the Left Front government in Tripura allegedly offered money to two gangrape rape victims to withdraw cases with the police, a charge that was denied.
The Congress leader, Ratan Lal Nath, who is the Leader of the Opposition, alleged that Rural Development minister Jitendra Chowdhury had promised the two victims Rs one lakh each and other government benefits if they withdrew their complaint.
Two women were beaten up and allegedly gang-raped at Tekkatulsi, a tribal village under Manu Bazaar police station in South Tripura district on March 20 following which six youths were arrested.
Demanding that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar ask Chowdhury to resign, he claimed that he had video recordings of the statements of the rape victims, their families and villagers that the minister visited the village and offered money to the victims for withdrawal of the case.
Nath also said that the two victims, who sold country liquor, may have annoyed the villagers. "Even if this is true, nobody has any right to gang rape them."
Contacted, the minister, who is now at the party congress of the CPI-M at Kozhikode, denied the charge saying it was concocted and baseless.
"This is unfortunate that Mr Nath can make such false allegations. In the name of helping the victims he is making false allegations against me," Chowdhury said.
After the matter came up in the assembly on March 22, he said, he visited the village on March 28 along with SDM of Sabroom, BDO of Satchand block and a police officer to ascertain facts.
"Whether the women were raped or not will be proved later, but it is true that they were beaten up by some people. I assured the villagers that the guilty must be punished."
There was an uproar in the Assembly on March 22 when the matter was raised by Congress members and a statement demanded from the Chief Minister.