Thursday 22 February 2018

India rape victim may have been given drug-laced tea

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

POLICE in India investigating the alleged rape of a young Irish aid worker believe she may have been drugged.

The woman claims she was sexually assaulted after accompanying Sujoy Mitra (25) to his home in the Kalighat area of Kolkata in the early hours of last Saturday morning.

She had been celebrating her 21st birthday with friends earlier that night.

The woman filed a statement with police in which she is reported to have said she was assaulted while in a semi-conscious state after drinking a cup of tea in the suspect's home.

"We suspect the accused laced the tea with drugs and raped the Irish woman," said local police officer Subrata Dey.

Police said they believe the young woman was in Mr Mitra's house for about three hours.

She reported the alleged attack to police and was taken to a local hospital for medical tests. She identified Mr Mitra to police using photographs on her mobile phone.

Later that day, police arrested Mr Mitra, a former hotel management student. He was brought before a court in Alipore on Sunday for a preliminary hearing and was remanded in police custody until tomorrow.

His lawyer has denied Mr Mitra raped the Irish woman and described the allegation as "totally false".

The woman is being cared for by friends in India while the Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to her and her family back home.

She is understood to have arrived in India only recently on a six-month visa and was working with an NGO based in the state of Darjeeling.

According to local reports, she had travelled to Kolkata to accompany an Irish friend who was flying home.

Mr Mitra studied hotel management in the United States but returned to India last year.

He is alleged to have been drunk on the night of the birthday party and there are claims he may have consumed drugs.

TESTS

However his lawyer, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, denied this saying his client has pancreatitis and "is not permitted to consume alcohol, leave alone drugs". The police said they had applied to have Mr Mitra kept in custody in order to carry out medical tests to determine if he was suffering from an ailment.

Mr Bhattacharya claimed that Mr Mitra first came in contact with the Irish woman "through a common friend" while his client was studying in the US. He said Mr Mitra and the woman did not meet in person until Kolkata.

The alleged rape is the latest in a string of high-profile sex attacks in India, some of which have involved foreign women.

The Department of Foreign Affairs urges women travelling in India to use caution and warns that recent sex attacks show that foreign women are at risk.

"Tourists have been the victims of sexual assault in Agra, Goa, Delhi, Bangalore, Madyha Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men.

Irish Independent

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