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BackYou are here: ResistanceSolidarity Release Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist entrapped in the draconian act UAPA and her associate Abhijnan Sarkar immediately and unconditionally

Solidarity

Release Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist entrapped in the draconian act UAPA and her associate Abhijnan Sarkar immediately and unconditionally

Drop the forged charges against all seven activists arrested for their participation in the Nonadanga anti-eviction struggle (28 April, 2012)

To The Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission,

Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi- 110001

Respected Sir,

We want to draw your kind attention to the dreadful incidents of barbarous atrocities by the West Bengal government upon the peaceful democratic protest movements of various mass organisations, civil rights groups and individuals opposing the banishment of poor slum dwellers in the name of 'development' and 'beautification' of Kolkata and subsequent malicious arrests of the social activists.

On 8th April 2012, a huge contingent of police arrested 69 demonstrators from the Ruby Hospital crossing of EM Bypass of East Kolkata when they had been protesting against the violent demolition of the Nonadanga slums on March 30th and forcible eviction of hundreds of populace of that colony, many of whom were compelled to migrate and set up their abodes in that locality after the cyclone 'Aila' disaster in Sundarban. Among the protesters were those who fell victims to this aggressive eviction drive without any rehabilitation measures instigated by the Mamata Banerjee-led government, as well as some civil society activists belonging to different democratic organizations, who thought it just to stand by the side of the victims and join their anti-eviction struggle seeking apposite rehabilitation and adequate compensation.

All those protesters illegitimately apprehended including women and kids (even a nine-year-old girl child, Manika Kumari) were put in the central lock-Up of the Kolkata police headquarter at Lalbazar for nine hours and cases under section 151 CrPc (considered as arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences)  were slapped on them.

In late evening, all the captives were released on PR bond except seven civil rights activists. Those activists kept in confinement were Deblina Chakraborty, Debjani Ghosh, Abhijnan Sarkar-a Research Scholar of Jadavpur University, Prof. (Dr.) Partho Sarathi Ray, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Samik Chakraborty and Manas Chatterjee. They were produced in the ACJM court of Alipore next day (9 April) and all of them were remanded to police custody till 12th April.

They had falsely been charged with a number of stringent non-bailable criminal cases made-up by the police under Sections 141 (unlawful assembly), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (offence committed in prosecution of common objective of disruption), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force on public servant) of Indian Penal Code. Surprisingly, all these concocted allegations, as per police complaint, were charged against them in connection with a previous case registered at Tiljala police station (Tiljala PS case no. 103 dated 4 April 2012).

In this matter, we want to bring to your notice what actually happened on 4th April. Contrary to the police statement, we had witnessed the evictees of Nonadanga colony including children and women ruthlessly beaten up by a large police force accompanying a group of hoodlums (supposedly TMC party cadres who were without police uniforms and explicitly captured by television cameramen), while they peacefully assembled at Ruby junction to organize a protest rally demanding their resettlement. Mrs. Rita Patra, a twenty-one year old pregnant woman and a two-and-half year old child, Joy Paswan were severely injured with 10 other persons in the brutal lathi-charge.

On 12th April, Deblina and all other detainees were sent to jail custody till 26th April after being produced in the court. Yet this was not enough. Unimaginably, in the evening when the defense lawyers had left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Deblina Chakraborty in three additional cases-two of which are old cases related to "sedition and waging a war against the state" and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur during the tenure of the former Left Front government. Furthermore, she was tagged in an old murder case (Nandigram PS case number 184/2009) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The acting additional CJM Ms. Swapna Ray granted the plea without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. The magistrate gave her orders that Deblina would have to be produced in the Haldia court on 20th April in connection with Nandigram cases. Abhijnan Sarkar, a research scholar of Jadavpur University, has also been entangled in the two Nandigram cases and directed be produced in court on the same day.

When it became known, there were protests from the side of other prisoners who took the stand that Deblina should not be taken for police remand alleging that her fundamental right to defend herself was being breached. They refused to leave the court lock-up for jail unless all seven were taken together. It continued for some time until Deblina was forcibly taken away by the CID in a police car to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation and she will be remanded to CID custody till 21st April. The other six captives were sent to Alipore Central Jail. The defense lawyers Tamal Mukherjee, Shankar Mukherjee and Subhasish Roy bore holes in the police claim. In a press statement Tamal Mukherjee said: "When the first arrests were made in the Nonadanga eviction case on April 4, the court had granted bail. These seven names didn't figure in the original FIR. Suddenly on April 9, the seven were shown as arrested in the same case. Police now claim they had arms and ammunition. The court gave those three days to unearth evidence but today, police could only show that seven bricks were recovered." (Source: Times of India, dated 13 April 2012)

The story behind the Nandigram case is this. According to the police, one letter was allegedly written by one 'Debu' to one Madhusudan Mandal, an alleged Maoist leader (now in jail) some years ago during the previous regime when the Nandigram movement was on. The police, without furnishing any clinching evidence, alleged that this 'Debu' was none other than Deblina Chakraborty. One wonders why a person allegedly having involvement with some underground organization should use one's own nickname. Should the use of this name, if at all, itself not mean that this so-called 'Debu' could only be someone else and not this Deblina Chakraborty?  Deblina had been with the people's movement for quite some years, functioning openly and participating in various mass movements that took place from time to time. She was never arrested earlier. Now she has been picked up during her participation in the Nonadanga anti-displacement movement and tagged in that earlier case for which charge-sheets had already been submitted and which did not mention her name. The fact is that the police under the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led left-front regime issued threats to arrest her under the UAPA, but protests from different quarters as also hunger strikes started by her and other activists at College Square thwarted such attempts. The new government under Mamata Banerjee - indubitably more brutal and vindictive-- picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

Who is this Deblina Chakraborty, whom Mamata Banerjee is unable to face politically and whom she has now sent to prison? Deblina was a student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University. She left her studies to carry on democratic movements and stood by the side of the people to the best of her ability. She was devotedly associated with the Singur Anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata Banerjee to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voices against the formation of SEZs and Chemical hubs under the notorious Salem industrial group, she went there and took part in the people's heroic struggle launched by the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC/Resistance Committee Against Displacement from Land) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the 'Matangini Mahila Samity' (MMS). The MMS was a women's forum that drew its name from the name of Matangini Hazra (the great heroine of the Quit India Movement and was shot down by the British armed forces). It fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPI (M) ruffians (harmads), and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by the gang of Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta during the previous regime. In this land struggle, the TMC, Congress, CPI, SUCI and other political forces also played their part within the BUPC.

After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee went against her pre-poll promises and aggressively started to snatch common people's lands in the name of 'development' ousting poor marginal people from their habitats to serve the interest of the rich capitalists along the line pursued by the former CPI (M)-led government. Mamata turned her heat against her former ally who opposed her evil intentions of handing over the common land to the big corporate land sharks. She initiated a slander and intimidation campaign by denouncing the 'Matangini Mahila Samity' as a 'satanic brigade' to gag democratic dissent and protest menacingly and the police as usual condemned Deblina as a 'Maoist' who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will.

Deblina is a dedicated social activist who always fights for justice to the best of her ability and stands by the side of the oppressed people in their struggles for rights and dignity. Such a person has now been charged under the UAPA in a most conspiringly and cowardly manner. We are quite apprehensive that the intelligence officials would subject Deblina to brutal mental and physical torture in police custody and send her to prison to languish there for as many years as possible. Should we allow such injustice to be done by this vindictive and cruel chief minister of West Bengal? Deblina started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her.

At this juncture, we are terribly shocked and dismayed at the odious fascist repression perpetrated by the WB state government upon democratic mass movements and freedom of expression blatantly violating the fundamental constitutional rights of the common citizens to pronounce their protest against injustices.

We strongly condemn and protest against the despotic police action subverting the law and unlawful arrests of all the social activists and their continued detention and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty implicating her in cooked-up charges.

On 17th April, we started this online signature campaign demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Deblina Chakraborty and other six arrestees who were fighting for the rehabilitation of the evicted slum dwellers of Nonadanga. Meanwhile, in the latest developments, all seven activists were released on bail after a huge uproar over their arrests, except Deblina Chakraborty and Abhijnan Sarkar even if they had also been granted bail in Tiljala PS case. Deplorably they are still languishing in jail as the CID tagged them with some additional old cases including a two-year-old murder case under the draconian UAPA against Deblina.

We welcome the granting of bail for the release of five activists, but we will continue our online petition campaign with our demand of the unconditional and immediate release of Deblina and Abhijnan and the prompt acquittal of all the activists.

We are furnishing below a brief chronicle of the incidents for your kind perusal.

On 17 April, 2012 Dr. Partho Sarathi Ray was granted bail after ten days in jail custody and the next day he was released from Alipore Central Jail of Kolkata. The illegal arrest of Dr. Ray was intensely condemned by thousands of peers, students, scientists, intellectuals and human rights activists from across the world including celebrated linguist, philosopher and historian Noam Chomsky. Eventually the escalating pressure from different sectors in India and abroad compelled the government not to oppose Dr. Ray's bail petition. But the bail pleas of six other activists arrested with him on April 8 were denied.

On 21 April, 2012, during the case hearing of Deblina and Abhijnan, there was high drama at the Alipore ACJM court. These two activists had earlier been separated from the rest of the seven after tagging them with old cases from Nandigram in East Midnapore and Bishnupur in South 24 Parganas which are under the CID investigation. Deblina faced long interrogation by the CID officers. On 21st April, similar to the previous hearing, they were not produced in the open court but taken straight to the magistrate's chamber from where they were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. Their lawyer, Subhashis Roy, raised strong objections to the denial of hearing in the open court. An altercation followed and in an unprecedented step, the defense counsel himself was detained at the court on the allegation that he had been trying to take pictures inside the courtroom with his cell phone. He was, however, released at night when no substantial evidence of photography was found against him.

On 23 April, 2012, the Alipore court granted bail to four activists-- Debjani Ghosh, Samik Chakraborty, Siddhartha Gupta and Manas Chatterjee, as the upsurge of the protest movement and solidarity campaign in support of the apprehended activists enforced the government to free them. But regrettably the bail petitions of the remaining two prisoners, Deblina and Abhijnan were rejected once more and they were produced in Haldia court of East Midnapore district, for some other concocted cases related to the Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement during the former left-front regime. The state counsel alleged that they had links with the 'Maoists' in Nandigram though the CID failed to produce any concrete evidence in favour of their allegation. The additional chief judicial magistrate again remanded them to police custody for two days.

On 25 April, 2012, in the next hearing, the magistrate of Haldia court sent Deblina Chakraborty to 12 days of judicial custody along with her associate Abhijnan. Though they were granted bail on 26th April at the Alipore court in connection with the Nonadanga agitation case of Tiljala PS, they are still in incarceration according to the Haldia court order. The CID has not been able to establish any tangible evidence of their alleged involvements with the Maoists. They will be produced in court again on 7th May.

In this context, we demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate and unconditional release of Deblina Chakraborty and Abhijnan Sarkar with annulment of all the outlandish set of charges fabricated against all seven activists for raising their voices of protest against slum demolition and forceful eviction at Nonadanga in support of the poor dispossessed people's struggle for their proper rehabilitation.

We urge your kind intervention to ensure speedy acquittal of Deblina and six other activists arrested in the course of the Nonadanga struggle. We would feel highly obliged if you kindly look into the matter and take immediate necessary measures from your end.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

sd/-

1)    Amit Bhattacharyya, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

2)    Amitadyuti Kumar, Chinsura, West Bengal, India

3)    Anand Patwardhan, Mumbai, India

4)    Anamitra Roy, Hooghly, West Bengal, India

5)    Anuradha Talwar, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

6)    Bernard D'Mello, Mumbai, India

7)    Debashish Goswami, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

8)    Dhruva Narayan, Delhi, India

9)    Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

10) Dipankar Chakrabarti, Editor, ANEEK, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

11) Dr. Saroj Giri, Delhi, India

12) Guruprasad Kar, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

13) Kabir Suman, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

14) Kallol Dasgupta, Bangalore, India

15) Kirity Roy, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

16) Kotravai Nirmala, Chennai, India

17) Kunal Deb, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

18) Lenin  Kumar, Bhubaneswar, India

19) Manas Joardar, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

20) Meher Engineer, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

21) Premangsu Dasgupta, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

22) Rathin Paulchowdhury, Shantipur, West Bengal, India

23) Rona Wilson, Delhi, India

24) Sabyasachi Deb, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

25) Salil  Biswas, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

26) Sanjib Acharyya, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

27) Saswati Ghosh, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

28) Sudha Bharadwaj, Bilaspur, India

29) Tushar Bhattacharjee, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

30) Rajdeep Roy, Melbourne, Australia

31) Abi Sharma, North Vancouver, Canada

32) Anisha Datta, Brandon, Canada

33) Arunabh Chatterjee, Surrey, Canada

34) Chelliah Premarajah, Richmond BC, Canada

35) Chinmoy Banerjee, Burnamby BC, Canada

36) Sukhwant Hundal, Vancouver, Canada

37) Daniel Mulugeta, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

38) Fanny Guex, Paris, France

39) Madhusree  Mukerjee, Schmitten, Germany

40) Hoyoung Chung, Seoul, Republic of Korea

41) Chandreyee Sengupta, Granada, Spain

42) Ingmar Hakansson, Eslov, Sweden

43) Brindaban Kundu, Basel, Switzerland

44) Arijit Ghosh, Manchester, United Kingdom

45) Ilona Halberstadt, Deal, United Kingdom

46) Shinjini Das, Cambridge, United Kingdom

47) Alan Haggard, San Diego, California, United States

48) Amit Basole, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, United States

49) Atreyi Dasgupta, Houston, Texas, United States

50) Auritro Majumder, Syracuse, New York, United States

51) Ayan Gangopadhyay, West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States

52) Balaji Narasimhan, Los Altos, California, United States

53) Cheryl Lemaire, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States

54) Edward Laurson, Denver, Colorado, United States

55) John Richard Young-Higgins, East Norriton, Pennsylvania, United States

56) Koushik Ghosh, Ellensburg, Washington, United States

57) Kurt Frees, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

58) Nandini Dhar, Austin, Texas, United States

59) P T Manolakos, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

60) Sanjeev Mahajan, Mountain View, California, United States

61) Seshan Sundararajan, Idaho, United States

62) Shalini Gera, Anaheim, California, United States

63) Siddhartha Mitra, New York, United States

64) Subhrajit Bhattacharya, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

65) Sugathy Sahadevan, Thrissur, Kansas, United States

66) Uma Chandru, Rye, New York, United States

67) Yasiu Kruszynski, Chicago, Illinois, United States

and 148 signatories more

The petition has been endorsed by total 215 signatories (updated on 28.4.2012 @ 11:47 am IST). A partial list of signatories is shown below and the full list of signatories is enclosed. Please find attached the MS-Excel file.

N.B. Please refer to the following set of news reports of the 'Times of India' and 'The Indian Express' for a chronology of the incidents.

1) Child spends 9 hours in police lockup, Times of India, 9 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-09/kolkata/31312546_1_police-station-agitators-demand-rehabilitation

 

2) Nonadanga: 7 in police custody, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/nonadanga-7-in-police-custody/934843/

 

3) CID appeals for custodial interrogation of Debolina Chakraborty, Times of India, 13 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-13/kolkata/31337086_1_cid-custody-nandigram-cases-custodial-interrogation

 

4) Rights activist with 'Maoist links' in CID custody till April 21, The Indian Express, 13 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Rights-activist-with--Maoist-links--in-CID-custody-till-April-21/936070/

 

5) Debolina starts hunger strike in jail, Times of India, 14 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-14/kolkata/31341596_1_hunger-strike-nonadanga-evictees-fasting


6) Scientist gets bail after Mamata govt faces public ire, Times of India, 17 April, 2012
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Scientist-gets-bail-after-Mamata-govt-faces-public-ire/articleshow/12711140.cms

 

7) Debolina sent to jail custody, Times of India, 22 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-22/kolkata/31382308_1_judicial-custody-cid-jail-custody

 

8) Court remands Debolina in jail custody till May 5, The Indian Express, 21 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/court-remands-debolina-in-jail-custody-till-may-5/939939/

9) Four Nonadanga activists granted bail, The Times of India, April 24, 2012

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Four-Nonadanga-activists-granted-bail/articleshow/12845086.cms

10) Debolina gets 12 days' judicial custody, The Times of India, April 26, 2012
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-26/kolkata/31409199_1_judicial-custody-debolina-chakraborty-haldia-subdivisional-court