In a letter sent to the Indian state of West Bengal yesterday, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take immediate action to locate the whereabouts of an abducted 14 year-old Hindu girl, Tuktuki Mandal (also referred to as Tutuki Mandal), and secure her safe return to her family.
Tuktuki was abducted from her home in the Mograhat District on May 5, 2015 at gunpoint allegedly by several local men, including Babusona Gazi (affiliated with a criminal gang), Ramzan Gazi, and Chottu Gazi. This was reportedly the second time Tuktuki had been abducted by Gazi and his associates.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tuktuki and her family, and we hope that she will be returned safely to her family as soon as possible,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow. “Unfortunately, this case is not isolated, but rather emblematic of a disturbing trend resulting from a breakdown of law and order in West Bengal, along with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and illegal migration on India’s eastern borders.”
According to the First Incident Report (FIR) filed with police, Tuktuki’s father detailed the girl’s accounts of being raped repeatedly by Gazi and gang members the first time she was kidnapped. The latest abduction came after Tuktuki’s family was intimidated into withdrawing the police complaint against Gazi for the initial incident, resulting in her release back in March. In May, however, upon learning that Tuktuki’s family planned to have her married for her own protection, Gazi and his gang abducted her again and she has not been heard from for the last two months.
“Several human rights advocates on the ground in West Bengal noted the drastic rise in these types of incidents when we met with them during a recent trip to the region,” recalled Jay Kansara, HAF Director of Government Relations. “If the situation is not addressed by the state government, the repercussions will be irreversible, jeopardizing communal harmony and safety for all of West Bengal.”
The letter was also sent to Home Minister Rajnath Singh for the Government of India, among other officials including Ambassador Arun Singh in Washington, D.C., in an effort to draw attention from New Delhi to the overall deteriorating situation. The letter called on the state government to take urgent action on the case of Tuktuki, enforce the rule of law for the protection of all residents of the state, and address concerns over rising criminal activity in the border areas of West Bengal, stemming in part from illegal migration from Bangladesh.
“We commend the collective efforts of human rights activists and community groups around the world in bringing much needed attention to this as well as other similar cases. We urge the state government and local authorities to take all necessary steps to bring Tuktuki home,” added Kalra.