PUCL Bulletin, 2003

State repression on political opposition inWest Bengal

Mon, 28 Jul 2003

About a hundred Concerned citizens and civil libertines observed a 30 hour token Hunger Strike and sit-in demonstration on 10-11 July at Chinsura, the HQ of Hooghly District at the call of APDR to protest against state repression on political opposition, continued defacto detention without trial of political workers and common people and denial of democratic rights of the people through full scale rigging of the last Panchayet elections with active participation of the district and police administration in the rigging process. More than fifty speakers highlighted different aspects of the issues citing the case of Parasar Bhattacharya who is kept in detention without trial for more than a year as instance

De facto detention without trial and state repression on political opposition in West Bengal

The instance of Parasar Bhattacharya - A voice of dissent


Who is Parasar ?
Parasar Bhattacharya, an educated unemployed youth, aged about 28 years, is the first son of Mr. Sukhendhubikash Bhattacharya and Mrs. Niva Bhattacharya, resident of Makhla under Uttarpara P.S. His passion is theatre, music and poetry and his deep concern about the state of affairs of the countrythe socio-political situation of his surroundings was the main content of his plays, songs and poems. He is a civil rights activist and an elected member of the Hooghly District Committee of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, representing its Uttarpara-Konnagar Unit.
What happened in the night of 4-5th. July02 ?
It started at 12-30 AM in the night of 4-5th. July02. According to Parasars father Mr. Sukhendhubikash Bhattacharya, At about 12-30, ringing of the phone awakened us. Parasar received the call but nobody responded from the other end. Within minutes, there were knockings at the door and some unknown voices were heard threatening to crush the door open. As soon as Parasar opened the door, several uniformed men entered the house. We were stunned to notice that searchlights were focused on the house from all possible corners and barrels of firearms targeting us through all the windows. They were asking for Parasar. Parasar identified himself. They searched our house without any search warrant. Parasars collection of Marxist and political literature, his diaries, scripts of his literary works and even the phone book of my daughter were taken away by them without any seizure list. They took Parasar away with them without arrest warrant or custody memo. They a!
lso took away my telephone receiver. On enquiry I was told that it would be returned back by the local P.S next morning. My queries about why and where Parasar was being taken, remained unanswered nor did the police force identify themselves. When Uttarpara P.S. was contacted next morning, we were told that they know nothing of the matter, but they heard that the Midnapore police had taken someone in their custody.
That night a team of Midnapore police led by Anil Srinivas, ASP, Midnapore, Mrinal Majumder, DSP of the same district and OC, Salboni P.S. arrested Proffesor Kousik Ganguly, Avijit Singha, Subodh Kar, Tinku Ghosh and some others from their homes. During the whole night Parasar and other detainees were brutally tortured at the Baguihati P.S. Interrogation Centre better known as a torture centre. On 6th July, they were taken to Salboni P.S in the Midnapore district, more than a hundred kilometers away. After another round of torture at the Salboni PS, they were produced in the Court as accused in a more than one year old murder case [Salboni P.S. case no 37/02 dt. 23.06.02] (Avijit Singha, an officer of the Central Govt., was spared of the severest of tortures, and was let offat the intervention of his father-in-law who is a Calcutta police intelligence officer. He died as a result of being compelled to witness the brutal police torture on the oth!
er victims and because of the police threats. His dead body was found by the side of the railway track on 7 July morning at Dumdum under mysterious circumstances after his release from Salboni P.S on 06.07.02 afternoon)
In the mean time, in the face of condemnation and protest from eminent intellectuals, different political forces including constituents of Left Front and others, commentaries in the print and electronic media and protest movements of civil rights organisations against such police terror, the govt. was forced to lessen the intensity of atrocities. Almost all the detainees including Parasar were ordered to be released on bail after the expiry of statutory 90 days period. Though Kousik Ganguly and some others whose names were highlighted in the media could come out of the prison, Parasar was not released inspite of fulfilling all the formalities stipulated in the judicial bail order. About seven hundred people, in some cases whole families are still languishing in jails.
The following facts about Parasars continued indefinite detention without trial will reveal as an instant, the tactics adopted by the state Left Front Govt. to suppress the political opposition and to mime voices of dissent.
1. Midnight of 4-5th July02 - 7-8 vehicles loaded with heavily armed commandos led by Anil Srinivas, ASP, Midnapore, Mrinal Majumder, DSP, Midnapore and OC, Salboni P.S. took away Parasar Bhattacharya son of Mr. Sukhendhubikash Bhattacharya, a retired employee of a mercantile firm, from his residence at Makhla under Uttarpara P.S., without producing any warrant of arrest and without providing any memo of arrest as required by law, without even informing the local Uttarpara P.S.
2. From the Midnight of 4-5th July02 to 6th July02 noon - Brutally tortured both physically and mentally first at the Baguiati Interrogation centre, Dist North 24 Parganas and thereafter at Salboni P.S. in the Midnapore District.
3. 2 P. M., 6th July02 - Shown arrested 14 hours after taking into custody- produced in Midnapore Court as an accused in a more than one year old murder case [Salboni P.S. case no. 37/02 dt. 23.06.02]. Bail application refused and sent to judicial custody.
4. July-August02 - Widespread protest and expression of concern over police terror by eminent intellectuals and social luminaries, different political forces including constituents of Left Front and others, protest movements of civil rights organizations against such police terror, commentaries and criticism in the print and electronic media, against such police terror on political opposition compelled the Govt. to constitute Arum Mishap Committee to enquire into some aspects of police atrocities.
5. 16th August02 - Parasar was shown arrested in Garbed P.S. case no. 08/02 dt. 04/02/02, while in judicial custody at Midnapore jail.
6. 26th August02 - Shown arrested yet again in Goaltore P.S.Case no. 31/02 dt. 06/06/02, while in judicial custody at Midnapore jail.
7. Sept.02 to Jan.03 - Ordered to be released on bail after the expiry of statutory 90 days period from the date of production, but was not released because he was already shown arrested in two more cases as mentioned above.
6th Jan.03 - Hunger strike of prisoners of Midnapore jail for their lawful rights as a person in custody and for the status of political prisoners Parasar takes a leading role in the movement.
13th Jan.03 - Representatives of Civil liberties, Human Rights and Democratic rights organisations from all over India met Parasar and other prisoners at Midnapore court lock-up.
8. 19th Jan.03 - After his release on bail in all cases registered against him from Midnapore jail, Parasar was literally snatched away from his parents by the police from the jail gate. When confronted by the media persons, Human Rights activists and people, police could not produce any arrest warrant. People protested on seeing that Parasar was being dragged along about a kilometre long road to Kotwali PS..
9. 19th. Jan.03, Evening - Electronic media aired footages of the abduction and dragging away Parasar along the road .
10. 19th. Jan.03, 9 P.M - On enquiry, the O.C., Kotwali P.S.(Midnapore) tells APDR that on verbal instructions from the higher authority, Parasar was taken in custody. The reasons were not known to him. He adds that Parsar would be charged with a fresh case as per the order of higher authority.
11. 21st. Jan.03 - Parasar is produced in Jhargram court in connection with Belpahari P.S. case no. 47/01 dt. 30.10.01 and 50/01 dt. 28.11.01. Lawyers of Midnapore court demonstrates against the role of police and boycott Court proceedings in protest. Sub divisional Magistrate of Jhargram expresses his resentment.
12. 11th. Feb.03 - Anticipating that the magistrate would grant bail in the cases of Belpahari P.S. on the next day, Parasar is again shown arrested in Binpur P.S. case no. 08/02
13. 1st Mar03 - Though granted bail in the cases of Belpahari P.S. and Binpur P.S., Parasar is still in custody - now shown arrested in Bundwan P.S. case no. 12/02 dt. 03.04.02. After cases of murder, conspiracy against the state, it is learnt that cases of paddy looting, theft of cattle awaits for Parasar.
14. 17th Mar03 - Parasar is not produced in Purulia court on the date fixed for hearing in the Bundwan PS case. The govt. informs the court that it could not arrange vehicle and police escorts to produce Parasar now lodged in Jhargram jail .
15. 16th Apr03 - Again Parasar is not produced in Purulia court on the date fixed for hearing. The govt. again pleads its inability to arrange vehicle and police escorts to produce Parasar.
16. 16th Apr03 - Parasars advocate issues notices to all the Superintendents of Police of West Bengal asking for details of cases pending against Parasar, reply to which is still awaited. Earlier Parasars father, Mr. Sukhendhubikash Bhattacharya also wrote a letter to the Honble Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court, protesting against repeated re-arrest of Parasar in which he wanted to know the details of cases pending against his son. Reply is yet to be received.
17. 24th Apr03 - Parasar is not produced in Purulia court. For the third time the govt. pleads its inability to arrange vehicle and police escorts to produce Parasar.
18. 30th Apr03 - For the fourth time the govt. pleads its inability to arrange vehicle and police escorts to produce Parasar.
19. 6th May03 - A Habius Corpus petition is filed in the Kolkata High Court. The Court directs the govt. to reply within 3 weeks.
20. 12th May03 - At last Parasar is produced in Purulia Court. The court could not hear the case as police did not produce the relevant papers.
That most of the cases against Parasar and about 1500 persons arrested for political reasons (for alleged contacts with PW, MCC, and Kamtapuri movement) are false and that these cases have been framed for supressing the voice of dissent are evident from the following facts :-
o On 27th Nov.2K, at 29 P.S. of North Bengal FIRs were registered in same language.
o That in cases in connection with movements for drinking water, roads or treatment at health centres, arrested political workers and common people are booked in charges under most stringent sections of Indian Penal Code. The sections are conspiracy and waging war against the State (Sec. 121, 121A, 122, 123, 124A of IPC), murder and attempt to murder ( Sec. 302 and 3 of IPC) and Arms Act (Sec. 25, 27, 35). Cases against Parasar include almost all these sections.
o In all cases a novel method of lodging open FIRs have been adopted. Though this tactics have always been resorted to, to keep the opposition detained in false cases, which amounts to de facto detention without trial, the practice was most widespread in Kashmir from 1994, and thereafter in Andhra Pradesh. In such cases, a genuine or false case is started in a P.S., with two or three named persons along with many others as accused. After arresting someone, he is name is conveniently included in many others. In the Bundwan P.S. case Parasar is the eleventh accused whereas the FIR states that only nine persons have committed the alleged crimes.
o Persons connected with local politics or movement, after their arrest are implicated in cases of far flung districts to harass them and their families. Friends and family of Parasar do not know whether Parasar ever visited Bankura or Purulia. He visited Midnapore, perhaps only once, to attend the annual conference of APDR, but he has been accused of committing crimes hundreds of kilometers away from his home.
o To attain the objective to detention without trial, tactics of non-production of the accused or case diaries, are resorted to widely. On four consecutive dates (17/03, 16/04, 24/04 and 30/04) Parasar was not produced in Purulia Court. The plea was that the Govt. was unable to arrange vehicle and police escorts to produce the detainee from Jhargram in Midnapore District. But this same Govt. with a chronic short supply of vehicles and police personnel could sent 7-8 vehicle loads of commandos from Midnapore to more than 150 kilometers away Konnagar to take Parasar into custody.
o That the Govt. not only wants to suppress the voice of dissent, but also wants to stop the people from thinking of any other option outside the design predetermined by them is evident from the fact that the police took away all legitimate political books, without even sparing writings of Danton or Shakespeare and volumes of the academic periodical Economic and Political Weekly. Not only social-political books of Parasars collection but also three diaries containing the manuscripts of Parasars literary endeavors from the days when he was a student of class IX were taken away by police. Perhaps these have already been destroyedthe police is now denying that they have taken the books and papers,
o In the face of widespread expression of resentment from concerned citizens and organisations the govt. was compelled to constitute Arun Mishra Committee. Arun Mishra Committee has already submitted its report. Like about fifty previous commissions, the report of the Arun Mishra Committee is lying in the cold store and .

These happenings are being possible
Because we are keeping mum.
Because all States want to suppress the voice of dissent - only conscious efforts of the citizens can ensure protection and expansion of Personal Liberty, Civil Liberties and Human Rights.
27th July03Parasar is still in Jail
Association For Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), Hooghly District Committee.



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