New Delhi: For close to three weeks she lay alone in a hospital bed, infections searing through her abused body.
On Tuesday, the 18-year-old, trafficked from Bengal and raped and gang-raped multiple times across six states since she was abducted in December last year, had politicians posing with her.
She had her photographs taken with BJP leader and actress Roopa Ganguly and CPM politburo member Brinda Karat.
Twenty-two days after she was found abandoned at the hospital and identified by the NGO Shakti Vahini, some politicians from Bengal had finally taken notice of the teen from Diamond Harbour.
Karat today held a media conference, the victim's mother by her side, on a day authorities at Delhi's Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital confirmed that the girl was HIV-positive.
Hospital sources said Ganguly asked a nurse to click a picture of her with the victim. "I took one photo of the girl with me, but that is for my record only and not for publicity to be put up on Facebook," the actress told this newspaper. "I am not that kind of a politician."
Her party's Bengal unit wasn't as self-effacing. Photographs of Ganguly's visit - outside the hospital and in the corridor outside the victim's room - were put up on the state BJP's Twitter handle later that day. "Smt @RoopaSpeaks in GTB hospital,shameful that TMC,CPM MPs are in Delhi but didn't bother to meet ....(her)," the tweet said, mentioning the victim by name.
Sources said the girl's mother and three others were brought from Bengal to Delhi by the Rajdhani Express at the behest of the CPM-affiliated All India Democratic Women's Association on December 15. The VIP visit to the hospital followed later that day.
While the victim met her mother, flashlights also made an entry as Karat stepped into the room and her team clicked pictures of the girl with the politician-activist. Witnesses in the room said over a dozen photographs were taken.
At today's media conference, Karat accused the Bengal government of not taking such cases seriously.
"Here is the survivor telling the police where she is and the Bengal police did nothing to trace her. The police even refused to register an FIR in the case," said Karat, who has already met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and the National Commission for Women.
The girl's mother said she had been told that many Trinamul MPs were in Delhi for Parliament's winter session but not one of them had met the girl. This newspaper sent a message to Trinamul MP Derek O'Brien but received no response.
The mother also said her daughter was still in pain and rued the loss of her long, thick waist-length hair. "Her hair has been snipped from the front by the trafficker's wife, she told me, she doesn't look good. She had such nice hair and looked so good," she said.
Ganguly said she has asked the BJP's Delhi human rights cell to seek an appointment for the family with the home minister.
"At the end of the day, I want the girl to get all the support she needs. It was heartbreaking to see this young girl who had been manhandled to such an extent that she is still bleeding.... Trafficking of girls needs to be stopped from Bengal," she said.
The Telegraph, Kolkata