West Bengal:

Disappearance of Partha Majumdar

We had published in the PUCL Bulletin of May 2000, 'an urgent appeal from a mother". It was an appeal from Ms. Sunita Majumdar whose son, Partha Majumdar was taken away by the Police in District 24 Parganas of West Bengal. After shooting him in the leg, he was removed to the Habra Hospital and then to Barasat General Hospital under a fake name. After that Partha Majumdar remains untraceable. This was on September 9, 1997. A petition was filed in the Calcutta High Court on which the Court requested on January 21, 1998, the Chairperson of the West Bengal State Human Rights Commission, "to entertain the matter and was investigation to be made in accordance with law and make their representation to the State Government". The State Human Rights commission issued an order on April 10, 2000. Excerpts from the order of the Commission are reproduced below. The recommendations of the WBHRC have not yet been implemented by the West Bengal Government.

"It was a specific case of the petitioner that Partha was admitted and treated in both Habra and Barasat hospitals in a false name and/ or in the guise of one Lakshman Giri, which aspect was not overlooked by the Hon'ble High Court. "The case sought to be made out by the petitioner is that Partha was arrested on 5.9.97 and he was fired on his leg on the place of occurrence by the police. He was taken to Habra hospital. He was treated in the guise of one Laxman Giri, a male aged 32 under the care of S. D. P. O., Barasat. He was admitted in a false name and personification. He was transferred to Barasat hospital in the guise of Lakshman Giri and treated on a false personification as per registration No. 33166 dated 5.9.97 in bed No. 6. He was brought to hospital by one Kushari Babu from Barasat P.S. and Partha.

Under false personification of Lakshman Giri was released on 6.9.97 after executing a bond. He was released under signature of one Biman Chatterjee working under S.D.P.O., Barasat. In the High Court pleadings it was stated that Partha was last seen by the petitioner in the police jeep at Village and Post Churghat when police was raiding somebody's house on 7.9.97. On seeing his brother in the custody if Pranab Dutta, O. C Habra P.S. and Basudeb Bag, A. S. P., North 24 Parganas, petitioner enquired the reason of his brother's arrest from the said police officers who denied that they arrested any person called Partha Majumdar. They identified petitioner's brother as Lakshman Giri. The petitioner moved the writ application on 15.9.97 before the Division Bench of the High Court directing D.S.P., North 24-Parganas to produce all papers in connection with Partha Majumdar @ Bapi. The order was duly communicated but the police failed to produce any paper in connection with Lakshman Giri and Partha Majumdar. The Court directed the O. C., Habra P. S. to file an affidavit as to whether Partha Majumdar @ Bapi was chargesheeted by Habra P. S. in any criminal case or at the time of encounter when he was also there, whether he was arrested at all.

"Be that as it may, the Commission thought it prudent that the matter should be investigated by an Investigation Officer of this Commission and in that context Shri T. K. Sanyal, Dy. S. P. was directed to hold the investigation in connection with the allegations leveled by the petitioner Dipankar Majumdar against O. C., Habra P. S. and other police officers for causing disappearance of Partha Majumdar @ Bapi from police custody.

"In course of investigation as many as 39 persons including several police officials and others have been examined. A number of documents have been scrutinized. It appears from what has been stated in the report that Partha Majumdar was arrested by police on the day of occurrence on 5th September,1997 and kept in the police station lock-up and treated at Barasat S. D. Hospital. However, the name of Partha Majumdar has not been mentioned in any of the documents either at the police station or at the hospital. Two accused persons were present at Habra P. S lock-up at the relevant point of time, namely, Sonai Bhawal and Gopal Majumdar who have categorically mentioned that while they were in the P.S. lock up, a young man with bleeding injury on his leg was brought in the lock-up at about 8/8.30 a.m. on 5th September'97. Both the said accused persons were taken out from the lock-up immediately after the admission of the said young accused. They had hardly any chance to talk to the young man and ascertain his identify. They, after seeing the photograph of Partha Majumdar, in course of investigation, identified the said young man to be Partha Majumdar.

"Dr. Binapani Boral, Emergency Medical Officer and Dr. Bikash Chandra Mishra, Surgeon, both of Barasat Hospital under whom Partha Majumdar @ Bapi in the name of Lakshman Giri was admitted and treated, have identified the photograph of Partha Majumdar as one Lakshman Giri whom they treated at the hospital. Moreover, it is evident from the injury report of the Medical Officer, Habra State General Hospital, that Lakshman Giri did not at all have any injury on his head or in his leg, but had only 2 cut injuries of 1 inch / 3 inch on the dorsal aspect of the left forearm and other in the interior aspect of the left arm. As per the statement of Dr. Bikash Chandra Mishra, Surgeon, Barasat Hospital, the person whom he treated in the name of Lakshman Giri and multiple injuries, abrasion and haematoma over his left forehead, left hand and penetrating injury on the left leg, etc. Therefore, it is obvious that the person shown in Habra State General Hospital as Lakshman Giri cannot be the same person who had all the above mentioned injuries as per the version of Dr. Bikash Chandra Mishra.

"Moreover, Arijit Chatterjee, a patient of bed No. 2 of Male Surgical Ward who was under Dr. S. Mondal and left the Hospital on 6.9.97 at about 1.30 p.m., even though he was given discharge certificate on 5.9.97., after observing the three photographs of Partha Majumdar, Ranjit Mondal and Homeguard Lakshman Giri, identified the photograph of Partha Majumdar and as per his version, the said patient wearing lungi and Ganji with injuries on his leg and on different parts of his body, was admitted in bed No. 6 on 5.9.97 at about 1.30 p.m. and according to him, he found the same person in the said bed till he left the hospital on 6.9.97 at 1.30 p.m. Arijit Chatterjee also identified Ranjit Mondal and stated that the aforesaid person was a bulky man and was admitted at bed No. 6 at the same time. However, Arijit Chatterjee, after observing the photograph of Lakshman Giri, categorically said that he never saw the said person depicted in the photograph at any time during his stay in the hospital. Therefore, it appears that Lakshman Giri was never physically admitted at Barasat Hospital but another person who was identified as Partha Majumdar after looking at the photograph, was actually admitted and treated in the hospital. On 6.9.97 evening the said young patient was discharged and he was taken away by S. I Arobinda Kushari of Barasat P.S. As per his version the young accused person whose identity was doubtful was seen in hospital on 6th September 97 evening only and after that he could not be traced any more so far.

"The complainant in the High Court pleadings claimed that he saw last his brother Partha Majumdar in police jeep and since then Partha was missing which story he did not substantiate before the Investigating Officer. The report of the Investigation Wing revealed contradiction in the statement of police personnel were in the raiding party and (ii) purpose for which the raid was made and (iii) When and by whom, the dead body of Suresh Barui was removed from the place of occurrence. "There were other materials and documents that Suresh Barui and Partha Majumdar were shot at by the police, resulting in the death of Suresh Barui and injury of Partha Majumdar and Partha Majumdar was taken in the custody of the police and was taken to Habra hospital and thereafter to Barasat State General Hospital and that Partha Majumdar was taken back by the police from the hospital and was lastly seen in the police jeep from when there was no trace of said Partha Majumdar.

"Taking the entire gamut of evidence the Commission is of the considered view that even though SDPO, CI Habra and other officers of the raiding police party all candidly denied about the arrest and taking away of Partha Majumdar from the place of occurrence, keeping him in Habra, P. S. lock-up and ultimately giving him treatment in the name of Lakshman Giri from 5.9.97 noon to 6.9.97 evening and after his discharge under the signature of Constable B. Chatterjee taking him away in guise of Lakshman Giri with Constable Ranjit Mondal as was so done by S. I Arbindra Kushari in a police jeep to Barasat, the factum of taking away of Partha Majumdar from the scene of accurance is atleast very much there. Some contradiction in the statement of police officers regarding killing of Suresh Barui from contact range and taking away his dead body from ) the place of occurrence by the said raiding party on the date of occurrence is there as well. Even though Suresh Barui was a veteran criminal, there was also every possibility that Suresh Barui did not fire or hurl bombs towards police from close range in presence of his associate Partha Majumdar.

"As regards surrendering of Partha Majumdar and the police taking him away in police jeep and keeping him in police lock-up for some time and police officers removing the other prisoners from the lock-up as revealed from the statements of the Sonai Bowal and Gopal Majumdar who were in Habra P. S. lock-up at the relevant time, may hardly be discredited.

"As regards the admission and treatment of Partha Majumdar at Barasat Hospital while he was wearing a Lungi and Ganji along with Constable Ranjit Mondal, the statement of EMO Binapani Boral and the attending Dr. B.C. Mishra, the Surgeon under whom treated in Male Surgical Ward of Barasat Hospital, it is evident that Partha Majumdar was admitted and treated in the said ward in the name Lakshman Giri. Both the said doctors identified Lakshman Giri when admitted and treated in the Hospital. It may be seen in the injury report of the EMO of the Habra State General Hospital that Lakshman Giri did not have any injury on his head and on his legs except 1/3" dorsal aspect on the left forearm and left arm. It is not really understood wherefrom the said Lakshman Giri could come to Barasat Hospital with multiple injuries in the nature of abrasion and haematoma and penetrating injuries in the left calf and abrasion on the right leg. M. O. Dr. B. C. Mishra, Surgeon during treatment in the Male Surgical Ward of Barasat Hospital first saw that it was not a different person other than Home Guard Lakshman Giri who arrived at Barasat Hospital and left the hospital on 6.9.97 at 1.30 p.m.. This was a different story. He identified the photograph of Partha Majumdar as the particular boy who was Lakshman Giri who came with injuries and was treated in bed no. 6 on 5.9.97 at 1/1.30 p.m. and found him in the bed till the following day. After identifying the photograph of Ranjit Mondal who was in uniform as a sturdy fatty man who was admitted wearing a Ganji at the same time, he stated that both of them were policemen. He further stated that he found the photograph of Ranjit Mondal in uniform.

"It is thus evident and clear that Partha Majumdar was arrested by police and kept detained in the Habra P.S. and in the name of Lakshman Giri he was treated in hospital wherefrom he was discharged on 6.9.97 evening and taken away by Arobinda Kushari to Barasat P. S. and since then Partha Majumdar is missing from the police custody.

"In the light of the evidence brought out in this report and regard being had to the fact that the police version of the "encounter" does not exactly correspond with the way things happened on the fateful day, Commission would recommend that: (i) C.I.D., West Bengal should register a case against the police officers associated with the firing on Suresh Barui and Partha Majumdar and causing the disappearance of Partha Majumdar from police custody. C.I.D. should initiate appreciate action in accordance with law.

Government should confirm compliance with the commission's recommendation within a period of two months".

-- Justice Mukul Gopal Mukherji, Chairperson; Justice Shamsuddin Ahmed, Member, Shri R.N. Sen Gupta, member, Shri R.P. Samajdar, Member. Dated, The 31st March, 2000; Calcutta

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(PUCL Bulletin, Aug 2000)