185/3 Fourth Floor, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi-110025
Press Release
17 April 2012

Free six other activists imprisoned for their participation in the Nonadanga anti-eviction struggle!

On 8th April 2012, a large police force arrested 69 persons from the Nonadanga area of East Kolkata when they were protesting against the eviction of hundreds of people, many of whom were forced to migrate and set up their abodes in that area after the Aila natural disaster. Among the protesters were those who fell victims to this eviction drive initiated by the Mamata Banerjee-led government — men, women and children, as also some activists belonging to different democratic organizations, who thought it just to stand by the side of the victims and join their struggle for rehabilitation. In late evening, all but seven persons were released on PR bond. Among those arrested were Debolina Chakrabarti, Debjani Ghosh, Abhignan Sarkar, Prof. Partha Sarathi Roy, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Babun Chattopadhyay and Shamik Chankraborti.

They were produced in court next day and all were remanded to police custody till 12th April. On 12th when they were produced, all of them were sent to jail custody till 21st April in the Nonadanga case. Surprisingly, in the evening when lawyers on the side of the accused have left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Debolina Chakrabarti in three other cases — two of which are old and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur. The magistrate granted the prayer without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. When it became known, there were protests from the side of other prisoners who took the stand that Debolina should not be taken for police remand and that they would not leave the court for jail unless all seven were taken together. Their resistance continued for some time until Debolina was forcibly taken alone by the CID in a police car to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation. The other six prisoners were sent to Alipur Central Jail.

Debolina was tagged in a murder case under UAPA.

The story behind the Nandigram case is this. According to the police, one letter allegedly written some years ago by one ‘Debu’ to one Madhusudan Mandal, an alleged Maoist leader (now in jail) during the previous regime when the Nandigram movement was on. The police, without furnishing any evidence, alleged that this ‘Debu’ was none other than Debolina Chakrabarti. One wonders why a person allegedly having links 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 Debolina Chakrabarti? There is no evidence whatsoever with the police to establish that the said person ‘Debu’ is Debolina. Debolina 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.

The fact is that the police under the previous Buddhadev-led regime issued threats to arrest her under the draconian 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 – undoubtedly threatening to surpass the brutality and vindictiveness of the CPI(M)-led government – picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

Who is this Debolina Chakrabarti, whom Mamata Banerjee is unable to face politically and whom she has now sent to prison? Debolina 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 associated with the Singur anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voice 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 Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the Matangini Mahila Samiti (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPM hermads, and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta group. In this struggle, the TMC, CPI and other political forces played their part within the BUPC.

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 Samiti as a ‘satanic brigade’. The police as usual described Debolina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will. Such a person has now been booked under the UAPA in a most heinous manner. It is crystal clear that the intelligence officials would subject Debolina to brutal mental and physical torture 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, cruel and anti-people chief minister of West Bengal? Debolina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her. We appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to raise their voice against the imposition of the UAPA on her on cooked-up charges and demand the unconditional release of Debolina Chakrabarti and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

SAR Geelani
Working President

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations