TNN | Dec 31, 2012, 06.18 AM IST

KOLKATA: Fifty-two-year-old Mahashin Ali wakes up with a start every 15 minutes in his ICU cubicle at RG Kar Medical College Hospital. Eyes wide open in horror and gasping for breath, he asks for his wife, who was allegedly gang raped and bludgeoned to death at Sonakharki in Barasat on Saturday evening.”They are killing her. Please do something,” he mumbles hoarsely, before lapsing back into unconsciousness. Doctors say Mahashin is in critical condition, his throat scorched by a chemical that was allegedly forced on him by the attackers. His condition worsened suddenly on Sunday morning after which he was shifted to ICU. He has not been told about his wife’s death.

“He says he is burning up inside ever since an acid-like liquid was pushed into his mouth by the gang. Every time he wakes up, he breaks into tears. His limbs are still shaking and he is repeatedly falling unconscious,” said Mosadul Ali, a neighbour who has been with him since he was brought to RG Kar on Saturday night. Mahashin isn’t poor but took up work at a brick kiln to raise money for his four-month-old grandson who has a kidney ailment.

From his fragmented accounts, Mahashin’s son Alfaz and Mosadul have reconstructed a horrific tale. He had gone to the brick kiln to escort his 45-year-old wife home around 6.30pm when he saw a few men dragging her away into a bamboo grove. It was dark and barring a house, there is no settlement in a 100-metre radius. Mahashin says he ran to rescue her.

“But there were around seven of them. While four raped his wife, the other three pinned him down, tied him and poured acid down his throat. He tried to scream but they shut his mouth with the bottle. After a while, he gave up fighting because his throat and chest had been singed and he had no strength left in him. The ordeal must have lasted about 15 minutes,” said Mosadul. Mahashin could apparently see his wife being battered.

One held for Barasat rape & murder
Raids on for other culprits

Policemen inspect the Barasat brick kiln where the alleged gang-rape victim worked. Picture by Bhabatosh Chakraborty

A youth in his mid-30s was arrested on Sunday in connection with the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 45-year-old woman and the attack on her husband in Barasat on Saturday night.

Mohammad Ishaq Ali, who police said was a labourer in the Jagannathpur brick kiln in Barasat where the victim worked, has been remanded in police custody for 10 days.

The condition of the husband, who is being treated at RG Kar hospital, worsened on Sunday, prompting doctors to shift him to the intensive care unit in the evening. “He is bleeding from the pancreas and liver,” said a doctor.

“Ali has confessed to the crime,” said an officer of Barasat police station. “He said he and three others had been drinking on the edge of pond near the brick kiln when they spotted the woman around 9pm. They raped and assaulted her and dumped her near the pond, and also threw some chemical into her husband’s eyes when he tried to resist them.”

The cops have detained seven others. “Raids are being conducted in the area to arrest the other culprits…. We have also searched the pond and adjoining areas,” said Sugata Sen, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas.

A hammer and a blood-stained knife were recovered from the water body. “We suspect the woman had been attacked with these weapons. They have been sent for forensic tests,” the officer said.

The cops also found an empty bottle of country liquor and a navy-blue windcheater, apparently belonging to one of the attackers, around 30 feet from where the woman’s mud-caked body was found.

A medical examination of the body revealed eight wounds inflicted by sharp as well as blunt weapons. “There were scratch marks on the victim’s body, suggesting she had tried to fight off the attackers,” said a doctor at Barasat hospital.

The victim’s elder son had lodged a complaint of gang-rape and murder with Barasat police station. He said her mother had stepped out of home to look for his father when the attackers accosted her. “I later learnt the attackers had dragged her to the edge of the pond,” the son said.

“My father had meanwhile returned home and went out looking for my mother. He was walking towards the kiln when he heard mother’s cries. He rushed towards the pond and saw what was happening. He tried to save her but the attackers threw a chemical powder into his eyes.”

Leaders of almost all political parties made a beeline for the victim’s house on Sunday. Local Trinamul MLA Rathin Ghosh, accompanied by Barasat municipality chairman Sunil Mukherjee, met the family members and relatives around 12.45 pm.

A couple of hours later, Amitava Nandy, the CPM’s North 24-Parganas district committee member, turned up with his followers. “We want the immediate arrest of all culprits. If the police fail to do so, our party will launch agitations across Barasat,” said Nandy. Youth Congress activists, too, visited the victim’s house, followed by Union minister Deepa Das Munshi.