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Archives for : Lalbazar

Kolkata – ‘Lock-up for protest songs!’ #Vaw

14 Jun 13

A group of women wanting to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday to tell her how unsafe they feel in Bengal was herded into prison vans and put in the Lalbazar lock-up for several hours.

Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha justified the move, saying the force could not have taken chances with the chief minister’s Z+ security. Some of those arrested for trying to meet Mamata at her Kalighat residence — they were released on bail around 3.30pm — called the police’s concern over Mamata’s security “misplaced”.

Sarmistha Dutta Gupta, who was in the group, tells Sreecheta Das of Metro what had taken her to Harish Chatterjee Street and how disappointed she felt when the police cracked down on a “peaceful rally”.

Being associated with the feminist movement for over 30 years and taking part in innumerable protests and processions, I used to think I was prepared for every kind of resistance. I was mistaken. I had no idea that participating in a peaceful rally, where the only thing that people do is sing protest songs, could land me in a police lock-up.

I reached the Hazra Road-Harish Chatterjee Street crossing around 8am to submit a memorandum to the chief minister regarding the gruesome gang rape and murder at Barasat and the general safety of women in our state. I joined the group because my conscience told me to. While our protest was against what happened in Barasat on June 7, the scope of our demands went beyond that.

Crimes against women have increased in the past one-and-a-half years. What I find more alarming is that more and more girl students are being targeted. Barasat has earned notoriety for different kinds of crimes against women — from men making lewd remarks and gestures at schoolgirls to Friday’s incident, that area has witnessed everything in the past year.

But the administration doesn’t seem to be perturbed. All that we see are a few arrests following every shocking incident. But there is hardly any follow-up, there is barely any effort to make women feel secure.

The administration doesn’t seem interested in reflecting on why such incidents are repeatedly taking place in a particular area. There are several schools, colleges and a university in Barasat, where many students are first-generation learners. We have interacted with students and teachers and found that there is no electricity in many places, let alone street lamps. Local toughs have been employed as watchmen in large plots of land meant for future commercial purposes.

Local girls say they are petrified of returning home after evening tuitions.

I am also deeply disturbed by the fact that people in the administration did not think it necessary to express their concern or anguish regarding any of the incidents.

Whenever we have sought an appointment with the chief minister, we have been turned down. On Monday, my friends from Maitree (an NGO) had gone to Writers’ Buildings to submit a memorandum to Mamata Banerjee. She did not meet them.

On Thursday morning, there were 30 of us, far fewer than the cops already stationed there when we arrived.

Six of our friends were arrested first, but I started walking towards Hazra with the rest. As we marched, we could see the police following us, some on foot and others on bikes. They blocked our way, pointed at the vans and told us to get inside.

When we said it was our right to stand wherever we wanted to, an officer replied: “Oto kotha jani na…cholun (we don’t know all that…get inside).”

They dragged us into the vans. They did not lathicharge us, but they did display brute force. My friend Swapna’s hand swelled up because of the manner in which she was pulled.

We still don’t know what the charges against us are and we can’t understand how singing songs could be construed as disruption of peace.

The trauma that we underwent would make some sense only when the administration realises that they have to come forward and do their bit to make Calcutta — and Bengal — safe for women.

AS TOLD TO SREECHETA DAS

 

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Kolkata gangrape: Peaceful protesters rounded up, Mamata remains silent #Vaw

by  Jun 13, 2013

While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjeeherself maintains a dismissive silence on the issues of women’s safety plaguing the state and its capital Kolkata, she probably likes people of her state to follow her example and not fret too much about young girls getting raped and killed.

In what is indicative of a similar sentiment, the Kolkata Police today picked up and detained a group of peaceful protesters who had turned up in front of the chief minister’s south Kolkata home to seek assurance of action and also submit a memorandum of demands.

Anuradha Kapoor, who is associated with the civil rights group Maitree, spoke to Firstpostabout her ordeal. She, along with twelve of her colleagues, were picked up by the Kolkata Police from Kalighat and taken to the police headquarters at Lalbazar

Mamata Banerjee. Agencies.

Mamata Banerjee. Agencies.

According to Kapoor, she and her colleagues turned up in front of Mamata Banerjee‘s house in Kalighat, Kolkata seeking an appointment with her. They were stopped at the police barricade in front of the chief minister’s house at around 7.45 am today. They sought an appointment with the CM but were  refused one.

“The police told us that we can’t meet her since there are so many of us. So we said that the rest of us can wait outside while three or four people can go and meet her,” Kapoor said.

However, the police still refused to let them in and the protesters too refused to budge.

“We had placards with us and we were singing songs. The police asked us to make way for vehicles, we did that too. Suddenly, the officer-in-charge of the Kalighat Police station started hollering at the women police constables on duty and asked them to make us leave. In no time, two police vans came and cops started dragging us and herding us into the vans. They rounded some of us up. Then they followed the rest in our group who had already left the spot and were several hundred metres away. They were picked up too and brought to the Lalbazar station,” says Kapoor.

There were 40 activists, of which twelve were picked up and detained at the police headquarters. Till this report was filed, the activists were detained at the Lalbazar police station and were given no information about the charges against them.

“The state of women’s security in terrible. It has been like that for a long time now and we elected a new government for a reason. However, they are in complete denial of the situation and when you protest, this is what you get. We had sought an appointment with the CM at the Writers’ Buildings prior to this. She asked a deputy to inform us that the demands can be forwarded to the police chief and she didn’t meet us,” said Kapoor.

A 20-year-girl was gangraped and killed last Friday and a twelve-year-old suffered the same fate within four days of the other incident. Protests have broken out across the state following that.

 

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Release Deblina Chakraborty entrapped in UAPA and 6 other social activists

A Petition via change.org to The Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission:

Why This Is Important

We are deeply concerned about 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 forcible eviction of Nonadanga slum-dwellers in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’ of Kolkata followed by malicious arrests of the social activists and their continued detention and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist and people’s leader, implicating her in cooked-up charges.

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 and forcible eviction of hundreds of populace of that colony on March 30th. All those protesters illegitimately apprehended including women and kids were put in the central lock-Up of the Kolkata police headquarter at Lalbazar for nine hours and cases under section 151 CrPc 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, 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.

On 12th April, Deblina and all other detainees were sent to jail custody till 26th April after being produced in the court. Surprisingly, 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 under UAPA. The magistrate granted the plea without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. Deblina was taken 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.

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. 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) 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 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. In this land struggle, the TMC, Congress, CPI, SUCI and other political forces also played their part within the BUPC.

The police under the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led left-front regime issued threats to arrest Deblina 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.

After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee turned her heat against the ongoing peoples’ movements and 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 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.

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 entrapped 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 has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her.

At this juncture, we appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to condemn and raise their voices of protest against the despotic police action subverting the law and illegitimate arrests of all the social activists and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty on cooked-up charges.

Please demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate acquittal of Deblina Chakraborty and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the forcibly evicted people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

Please go through the petition and sign, and circulate it among your friends and colleagues as widely as possible.

For more news coverage updated regularly on these incidents please visit the site ‘Sanhati’ :http://sanhati.com/

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

to sign the petition click here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-chairperson-of-national-human-rights-commission-release-deblina-chakraborty-entrapped-in-uapa-and-6-other-social-activists#

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