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PUCL Bulletin, September 2006

Police raid on the office of Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch

Bihar PUCL report

On June 15th, 2006 the Secretary of JPSM (Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch), Bihar, Mr RC Prasad, had a telephonic conversation with the General Secretary, PUCL, in which he gave the information about the raid conducted by the Jakkanpur thana and the Special Task Force on their office at Postal Park, Patna. He further informed that the raid was conducted in the night of June 14 sometime between 9.30 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. The Office Secretary of the organization Shri Ajay Bharti, Gram and thaanaa Birpur, Zila-Begusarai was arrested and that in the morning of June 15th the office furniture's, telephone set, fan, kitchenware, books, and papers of the library, musical instruments and some boxes and all the food grain that had been kept in the office, were carried away in tractors.

He then requested PUCL through a letter dated 18.06.2006 to enquire into the entire incident.

The PUCL met on 18th June 2006 and the incident was discussed on the basis of the request for enquiry received from Shri RC Prasad along with the copy of the FIR. PUCL decided to enquire into the incident and an enquiry team was constituted comprising the following persons: 1. Shri Kishori Das, Vice-President, PUCL, Bihar; 2. Prof Daisy Narain, Vice-President, PUCL, Bihar; 3. Shri Nageshwar Prasad, General Secretary, PUCL, Bihar. Mr Mithilesh Kumar (Advocate), Secretary, PUCL, Bihar and Mr Shashank Shekhar (Advocate), Executive Member, PUCL, Bihar provided legal assistance in the preparation of the report.

On June 22nd, 2006 the enquiry team met the Secretary, Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch, Shri R C Prasad and recorded his statement. Shri R C Prasad said that the office where the raid had been conducted and articles seized was the office of Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch and that Manch has no relationship with Communist Party of India (Maoist) and that Manch believes and acts within the framework of the constitution, while protesting against corruption and exploitation. He said that on June 14th between 9:00 p.m. to 9.30 p.m their office was raided by the police and he alleged that more than a raid, it was loot. He further said that several articles and commodities were taken away in course of the raid. He said that the FIR list is an incomplete one and that many more things were taken away. He alleged that the box containing Rs 25,000 along with books of account and expenditure were taken away. Most of the items taken away mentioned by Mr R C Prasad find place in the FIR, the number sometimes varied, for e.g., the number of steel almirah, boxes, chowkies, books and sacks of rice and wheat that were seized.

When the enquiry team asked him about the organization, he mentioned that JPSM, is a front organization for six other organizations like (1) Janwadi Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (2) Nari Mukti Sangh (3) Democratic Student's Union (4) Bharat Nav Javan Sabha (5) Krantikari Buddhijivi Sangh and (6) Krantikari Sanskritic Sangh. JPSM came into existence on June 27, 2005 and earlier it was the office of All India Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch (AIPRF). He categorically stated that JPSM is not a banned organization and in this context a writ has been filed in the Patna High Court. A complaint is being filed in the Patna High Court against police raid. Later Mr R C Prasad provided information regarding his complaint to the National Human Rights Commission on 16.06.2006. The NHRC has already registered a case No.625/4/2006-2007/UC issuing notice to the SSP, Patna calling for report within 4 weeks.

On June 22nd in the evening around 4.00 p.m., the PUCL team visited Kayastha Toli, Postal Park, where the JPSM office is located at the end of a narrow lane, Road No.4.

As it had rained on the previous days, there was water logging and it was not possible to go inside the lane to reach the office. But from a distance the lock hanging on the door of the office could be seen.

The enquiry team spoke to some of the neighbours. One of them, Ms Sulochana Kumari, was initially hesitant but later said that on June 14, around 9 or 10 p.m. the police came but she did not see what happened as she had gone inside. She said that the people who visited the office created no trouble and did a lot of rehearsals and had singing sessions, etc. As the office has a hand pump sometimes people of the area also use the pump for water.

Mr Bhola Prasad Kesri and Sanjay Kumar, other neighbours said that the lane was filled with water. And on that the police arrived and probably went inside the office, but they did not see exactly what happened. The following, morning they said, that various things from the office were carried away by labourers.

Another person in the neighbourhood Mr Arjun Paswan told the enquiry team that on June 14th, the police raided the office and in the morning took about one and a half tractor full of food grains the next morning.

The team asked others also in the locality but they refused saying that it was night and raining heavily, so all of them stayed indoors.

Then the team visited Jakkanpur police station to meet Thaanaa in-charge. He was not available. In his absence the team spoke to Sub-Inspector Shri Bhawnath Manjhi. He confirmed that the raid on JPSM's office did take place on the night of June 14, 2006 and that police remained the whole night. The seized articles from the office were brought to the thaanaa the next morning. However, he clarified that he was not in the raid.

After sometime the Thaanaa-Incharge, Mr Ramesh Kumar Malla arrived. He said that in the FIR, No.102/06, dated 15.6.06 everything had been recorded. His attitude was cordial and he said that the order had come from higher authority. Asked about the arrest of Shri Ajay Bharti he said that there are probably one or two murder cases pending against him and they are trying to locate the cases. When asked whether there was any link between the arrest of Vinay K Singh and the raid on the office as published in The Hindustan, June 16, 06, he denied that there was any link.

On June 24, 2006 after taking prior appointment, two members of the enquiry team, Prof Kishori Das and Prof Daisy Narain met the I G, Patna Zone Mr Rajbardhan Sharma. He said that he had no knowledge about the incident and that he would look into the matter, although when the appointment was fixed with him he had said that he would get the relevant documents related to the case. Another date was fixed, but due to some reasons the team could not meet him again.

On 28th June, 2006 the PUCL team met Shri Ajay Bharti in the Beur Jail. He narrated that on 14th June at about 9-9.30 p.m police raided the office and captured him and ransacked the whole office and started asking irrelevant questions, to which he tried to reply as far as possible. He was taken to the thaanaa on the morning of the June 15th along with the seized goods, over there he was humiliated and beaten by the STF police in the course of which his glasses were broken and that was causing him a lot of problem till date.

Contents of the FIR
The details of the FIR bearing Jakkanpur PS case no. 102/06 are as follows: In the aforesaid FIR the informant is S I Imtiaz Khan who is said to have received information from unknown sources on 15.6.06 at about 9.00 a.m. He came to know that an office of MCC is being run in the residence of Shri RC Prasad, Postal Park, Road No. 4, Kayastha Toli, where meetings are being held to arc-use people against the state machinery. It is further said that in the meantime the STF officers also came across him and he along with the STF and Commando police and two independent witnesses raided the house. It is further alleged that they found one Mr Ajay Bharti resident of Birpur, Dist. Begusarai in the house. It is further alleged that they found books relating to the banned organisations, posters, banners, dhol, nagaaraa, rice etc. in the house. It is again alleged that the aforesaid Shri Bharti informed that this office has been functioning as the office of the front organisation of MCC for the past so many years Shri RC Prasad is its Secretary. It is further alleged that Shri Bharti also informed that meetings were held there to arouse people against the state machinery and to revolt against the state.

It is further alleged that in the said office information regarding organization and money for the same was also directed to be collected. It is further alleged that in the said office the members were provided food items, musical instruments and there was also TV set for their entertainment. It is further alleged that Shri Ajay Bharti knew the chairperson of the organization, Shri Nagendra Mishra and its Secretary Shri R C Prasad and he did not know any other person in the organization. Thereafter the seizure of approximately 50 articles including rice and wheat in huge quantity and books, etc., were seized in the presence of independent witnesses and transported to Jakkanpur Thaanaa in tractors. A case was constituted against the aforesaid persons and Shri Ajay Bharti was taken into custody.

It was then decided that the team should meet the Senior SP and on the date and time for the meeting was fixed for July 13th at 10.30 a.m. The team met Senior SP and enquired about Jakkanpur Thaanaa FIR no. 102/006A15.06.06. He said that the raid on the office of JPSM at Postal Park, Patna was conducted on the basis of information given by Shri Vinay Kumar Singh who had earlier been arrested, Shri Vinay K Singh had admitted that he is a Maoist and they sometimes stayed in the postal park office and Shri RC Prasad cooperated with them. The SSP said that the JPSM was a Maoist organisation and that posters calling for the boycott of Graam Panchaayat elections have been found in large numbers in the office. He said that he consider it to be an act of treason. He also said that the young members carry arms and engage in violent acts and when they become old they join the front organisations.

The Maoist Organization is banned and any person or organization which supports or sympathizes with such organizations, are considered it to be members of a banned organization.

When questioned about the articles seized, the SSP said that books, furniture, musical instruments, utensils have been seized, but the incriminating evidence that was found are the posters asking people to boycott the Gram Panchayat elections.

He said that even the Central Government has declared naxalism the greatest threat to the country. Parties like the People's War, Party Unity, MCC, CPI (ML) are against development and do not accept the constitution.

PUCL, he said, has members who belong to such organizations and in a way a front organization of the Maoists.

He even questioned whether PUCL has faith in the constitution or not!!! He narrated some incidents while he was posted in Garhwa and Sitamarhi, and said he had very bad experience of PUCL interference. He said that Ajay Bharti, who had been taken under arrest from the JPSM office at Jakkhanpur, had no cases pending against him.

1. There appears to have been no valid reason for the police raid on the office of the JPSM at Postal Park, Patna. The Thaanaa-Incharge, Jakkanpur police station had mentioned that the raid took place on the morning of the 15th, the SSP stated that the raid was conducted on the night of June 14th. This means that Shri Ajay Bharti (70 years of age) had been kept for more than 24 hours in police custody, which is quite evident from the manipulation in the FIR wherein the date of institution of the case has been manipulated to be 15.06.06 from the actual date, already confirmed by the SSP Patna, being 14th June 2006, which shows that the aforesaid Shri Bharti was kept in custody for more than 24 hours without being remanded by the magistrate. It is needless to say that the custody of Shri Bharti is ab initio illegal and is contrary to the protection provided to the citizens by the Constitution of India as well as the law laid down by the Hon Supreme Court in D K Basu case. That there is no case against the aforesaid Shri Bharti, he is neither a member of the banned organization nor there is any other case against him. He has been apprehended only because of the fact that he was found in the aforesaid office and hence the charge under Section 17 C.L.A Act is not maintainable at all and even charges under other sections are not maintainable and hence Shri Bharti should be released henceforth.

2. On being repeatedly questioned about the incriminating evidence found in the office of JPSM, the SSP repeatedly stated that pamphlets calling for the boycott of the polls were the only incriminating evidence that was found. One wonders how such posters can be treated as incriminating evidence and as Acts of Treason against the state. Only on the basis of such posters no organisation or individual can be accused of working against the constitution. In a democracy, peaceful boycott of polling is not unconstitutional or treason against the state.

3. There was absolutely no reason to carry away rice and wheat, stored in the office in the course of the raid. Even the SSP admitted that it was quite possible to have various kinds of books in the office and that it was not against the law at all. But the reason given by the SSP for taking away everything that was there in the office was rather flimsy. When one member of the team asked him why the goods were seized the SSP said that there was nobody to whom the keys of the office could be given. That if somebody came to claim the goods kept in the thaanaa such will be returned. This shows that either the SSP is unaware of the rules related to seizure and release of the seized articles or that whoever goes to the thaanaa for claiming the articles might be arrested.

4. That regarding the raid there are contrary versions of the officer- in-charge of Jakkanpur Thaanaa and SSP. The Thaanaa-Incharge has said that this raid has nothing to do with the arrest of Vinay K Singh and the same was also reported in The Hindustan daily dated 16 June, 06. Whereas the SSP has claimed that the raid was conducted because of the information given by the said Vinay K Singh.

5. That contradictory statements have come from the Thaanaa- Incharge Jakkanpur and SSP Patna with respect to Shri Ajay Bharti. The Thaanaa-Incharge has reported that some murder cases are being investigated against Shri Ajay Bharti whereas the SSP has denied this allegation. In such a situation keeping a 70 year old Ajay Bharti in the jail on the charge of treason (17-C.L.A) is nothing but disrespect to democratic values.

6. PUCL is an association of persons who believe in the Indian Constitution and democratic values. It has always been the protector of the civil rights of the citizens of the country. Any person who brands PUCL as a front organisation of any political party or parties, whatsoever, does not know the values and the ideals followed by PUCL in the annals of civil liberties and human rights. The SSP does not appear to have any respect for such human rights organization or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which India is also a signatory. The PUCL for 25 years has been working in the field of human rights and civil liberties and it seems that the Senior SP was deliberately using insulting language against the organization, which is highly objectionable.

1. That an enquiry should be ordered against the police officer who has made interpolation in the FIR by way of overwriting, where the date has been mentioned and he should be given exemplary punishment.

2. That in this case as well as in other cases it is being observed that large scale misuse of Section 17 of C.L.A Act is being practiced by the police. It is expected that the misuse of the said section be immediately stopped.

3. That the raid made by the police on the office of Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch Bihar is illegal and also suffers from prejudice. This aforesaid raid is an attack on the fundamental rights of citizen of India and as such a quick remedial measure like release of Shri Ajay Bharti and release of the seized goods along with suitable compensation should be resorted to.

4. That the police shall not behave as tormentors of the people, whereas it should try to project itself as a people friendly organisation and as a protector of public interest. -- Mr Kishori Das, Vice-President, PUCL, Bihar; Prof Daisy Narain, Vice-President, PUCL, Bihar; Shri Nageshwar Prasad, General Secretary, PUCL, Bihar.

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014