Press Release- TAKSIM SOLIDARITY


Disclaimer and Disclosure to the Statement of Deputy PM Bülent Arınç:

After the meeting of the Council of Ministers on June 10th, the Government Spokesperson and the Vice Prime Minister Bülent Arınç stated that “There will be a meeting with a committee”. We hereby inform the public that the explanation given by the Bülent Arınç has nothing to do with the Solidarity and there is no demand by the Taksim Solidarity for a “meeting” with the council.

11 June 2013 Press Release

11 June 2013

On the 14th day of the Gezi Park protests, resisters are responded once again with riot control vehicles and tear gas!

The only difference between the police raid which happened 10 days ago at 5 am and today’s raid is the timing. Today, the police intervention started at 7 am in Taksim for a change; however, there are already tens of injured people and a police blockage causing public worry.

One can speak neither of democracy nor of dialogue when there is a blockage.There is not a single response to the demands of Taksim Solidarity, which are the shared wishes of the citizens; however, they hope that dividing the park-savers and the marginal
groups among those, who stand shoulder to shoulder for any kind of solidarity in Gezi Park, would help. Nobody should think that such a division among people who protect their park and living space would be helpful. We are going to stay together, and build our legitimate and righteous demands with solidarity.

As TAKSIM SOLIDARITY, we represent the feelings and the demands of millions of citizens who have been struggling to create public awareness against the project that would concretize Gezi Park, who lied in front of engineering vehicles to stop them, who were exposed to excessive police violence, who regarded the police violence against those who supported the park day and night and their living spaces as if it was against their own; and we announce once again that we will never let anybody scandalise our struggle in one way or another!

As it is kept abreast by the public, the committee of Taksim Solidarity has held a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and submitted their demands to the government in this meeting. Although no account has been given considering these demands by the government, attempting to hold a meeting with another committee, the formation of which is unclear to the public, is not an effort to create a sincere process of dialogue but an effort towards misguiding the public and towards weakening the roots of the righteous and legitimate demands of millions of people from all over the country. Today’s police intervention is a proof of government’s intention and attitude towards its own people.

Demands are clear. The addressee is obvious: Taksim Solidarity.

AKP government tries to create a polarization among public by holding alternative meetings, threatens its own citizens and rejects the demands of hundreds of thousands of people who in 77 cities of the country, primarily in Kızılay (Ankara), cries out their wishes in the streets, people who dance, sing and read poems to express their demands in Gezi Park and in squares; people among whom are women, children, LGBT’s, workers, religious people and non-believers.

We are worried about this government. We want to announce to the public that they, who have no legitimate policy except building concrete barracks against a park, except police violence and alternative meetings against demand for peace in the society, do nothing but a sin.

We want to repeat once again: stop using police violence against people who protect their living space and the park. Release those who are under custody. Relieve those who are responsible for two-week long police violence of duty; announce that our first and foremost demand will be realised, and announce officially that NOT A SINGLE SQUAREMETRE OF GEZI PARK WILL BECOME CONCRETE AND GEZI PARK WILL REMAIN AS A PARK!

The legitimacy of our demands cannot be denied either by the bill of human rights, or by universal law; these demands are supported all over the country and the world; and we insist on guarding our demands! We will be here until a concrete step is taken to realise the demands of the young people who protect Taksim and Gezi Park, of the women who gather in squares, of those who watched the Park day and night without sleeping or who supported the protesters with their heart at their homes, in other words, to meet the demands of the people and bring peace among the citizens.

We will be protecting our park and our squares with a great solidarity with our citizens until our demands are taken seriously and a concrete step is taken.

We are waiting for all those who protect Gezi at 19.00 in Taksim.

We are here, we are going nowhere.

TAKSIM SOLIDARITY

http://taksimsolidarity.org/

 

Press Release-Condemn the Growing Tendencies of Re-arrests of Political Activists!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

 

Dated: 19.04.2013

Condemn the Growing Tendencies of Re-arrests of Political Activists!

Condemn the Brutal Torture and Illegal Detention of Zakir Hussain!!

Release Zakir Hussain and Sabyasachi Goswami

Immediately and Unconditionally!

Punish the Officers Responsible for the Torture and

Illegal Confinement of Zakir Hussain!

 

Yet again the People of West Bengal are being witness to another instance of police brutality, trampling all constitutional norms, perpetration of third degree torture in police lock-up and the submission of false statements in the court of law. In its treatment of dissident voices, the present Mamata-led government is no different from the previous Buddhadev-led government which had ruled the state of West Bengal for more than 3 decades.

On 19 April 2013, Zakir Hussain and Sabyasachi Goswami were produced in Bankshall Court, Kolkata. The police force (STF) as usual showed them to have been arrested on 18 April from Behala in Kolkata for having Maoist links. Zakir had signs of police torture in STF lock-up all over his body and was almost unable to move. Actually, Zakir was arrested on 15th from Dharmatala in Kolkata—a place other than what was stated before the court. He was produced after four days of arrest—a clear violation of Supreme Court directives which makes it binding for the police to produce an arrested person within 24 hours of arrest. Zakir’s face was covered by a mask by the police in the lock-up to escape identification. Then he was beaten black and blue to extract confession—yet another violation of court directives and UN Covenant relating to Civil and Political Rights.  Sabyasachi Goswami was picked up on 18 April from Piyali, Canning in South 24-Parganas. He was subjected to mental and physical torture and was not allowed to sleep the intervening night between 18 and 19. They, as usual, were implicated in false cases like carrying arms and indulging in seditious acts, having Maoist connections.

 Both Zakir and Sabyasachi were arrested and incarcerated earlier for years together in another case and both were acquitted and released in 2011 after spending six years in prison. Both of them had been attending courts regularly since then in cases where they were released on bail. Last year, the STF raided the house of Sabyasachi and threatened his relatives. His mother who had been suffering from various ailments had a traumatic experience and she expired recently—a clear case of death by torture, brutal police forces driving a mother to her death by intimidation. This is how ‘democracy’ works in this ‘this largest democracy’ in the world.

Re-arrests of activists who have been acquitted of previous trumped up charges that too after prolonged periods of incarceration—in this case six years—has become a regular feature of the modus operandi of the police forces whether it is in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa Bihar etc. This while undoubtedly shows the growing impunity of the police and other special forces as well as investigating agencies is further becoming a standard operating procedure vis-à-vis criminalizing all forms of political dissent in the subcontinent.     

At CRPP, we unequivocally condemn the re-arrest of Zakir Hussain and Sabyasachi Goswami, the torture perpetrated on them in police custody by the notorious Special Task Force under the Mamata Banerjee-led government, demand exemplary punishment of those police personnel guilty of committing torture as well as the immediate and unconditional release of the political prisoners.

 

In Solidarity,

 

SAR Geelani                  

President                

 

Amit Bhattacharyya             

Secretary General                    

 

Sujato Bhadro              

Vice-president           

 

MN Ravunni

Vice President

 

Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations

 

Maharashtra -Dalit man commits suicide after police assault


Last Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013, Zee news
Gadchiroli (Maharashtra): A Dalit man committed suicide here in Eastern Maharashtra with his family alleging he took the extreme step after being assaulted by the police.

The victim, identified only as Sachin, escaped from a police van after being taken into custody and jumped into a well in village Katli near here Thursday. His body was fished out late in the night, police sources said.

His family this morning lodged a complaint with the Gadchiroli police station demanding action against the police personnel who allegedly assaulted him during a raid.

When contacted, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Rahul Khade said based on the complaint a probe has been ordered into the alleged police brutality. “We will take action against those found guilty,” he maintained.

According to the sources, a team of five Constables, including a woman, raided Sachin’s house on suspicion that he was engaged in illegal liquor trade.

When Sachin denied selling liquor, the policemen thrashed him with sticks and belt. They also assaulted his two sisters and mother, the complaint alleged.

The police then arrested Sachin and put him into a van, from where he ran off and jumped into the well, it said.

An organisation representing the community to which the victim belonged has demanded dismissal of the police personnel involved in the incident and registration of a case against them under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Samayya Pasula, President of Madgi Samaj Sangathana, said a compensation of Rs 25 lakh should be given to the family of the deceased.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the village, where additional police force has been deployed to maintain law and order.

PTI

 

#India- Police enters our village, beat women and children, arrested villagers and cut trees #mustshare


Dear Friends,

In the wee hours today (at around 4 am) the police has entered into our villages and beaten up women and children, arrested some of our villagers (number is yet to be known).

As we have intimated you earlier that the police force has been gradually swelling in our area amidst our continuing human chain and Dharana in the Balitikira-the boarder of Govindpur and Dhinkia villages of Jagatsingpur district, the police has deceptively entered to the villages with full force at 4 a.m. today. Our people sensed their possible move at around 2 o clock night and alerted the villagers by ringing bells. Gradually women, children, male members started getting accumulated at the Dharana place. At 4 a.m. the police entered and attacked the women and children first. The male police have ruthlessly beaten our women who were lying on a human chain. Some women have been severely inured. The Police have thrown our children like flowers, some of whom are injured. Some villagers have been arrested by the police and been taken to custody. At the moment we do not have exact numbers as the situation is too tensed on the spot. The police have started breaking our betel vines and cutting the trees forcefully. More and more numbers of our villagers have come to the spot and a war like situation has arisen. Our committed villagers are facing a mighty 12 platoons of police force.

We fail to understand the decision of the state to acquire land when the National Green Tribunal has already suspended the environment clearance to the proposed POSCO project in our area. Naveen Patnaik is behaving like an agent of the POSCO company.

As the situation is too alarming, we appeal all our friends to protest against the barbarism and call/write/fax to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Odisha and Chief Secretary of Odisha, Home Minsitry, Odisha appealing to immediately stop the police brutality and withdrawal of the force from our area. Please call to your respective MPs and MLAs and raise your protest against them urging them to oppose the illegal move. Write to NHRC also.

We request our media friends to rush to our villages and see the situation in their own eyes and report.

We will intimate further developments soon.

Please widely circulate this mail.

In Solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

The contact address of the authorities

 

Update June 20 : Police attack and arrest demonstrators-State crushing a democratic movement


Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement


A Report by Nilanjan Dutta
The day before, police said they would not permit any rally at Esplanade by the evicted people from Nonadanga.
On the morning of 20 June, they did not object when the rally was held and allowed the 200-odd participants to occupy the ‘Y Channel’, which is actually a narrow strip of land beside a huge garbage vat between the main tram and bus stations at Esplanade. Of late, this highly inconvenient and acutely stinking spot seems to have been earmarked to accommodate all the ‘non-mainstream’ demonstrators who are no better than garbage in the eyes of the administration.
As the public meeting went on, at one stage the police brought an offer from the Writers’ Buildings that the minister in charge would meet the committee delegation on 26 June. The assembly discussed the matter instantly and agreed to disperse on the basis of this assurance, if the authorities agreed to clear the outlets of the settlement field at Nonadanga that had been blocked by raising a boundary wall. This was causing tremendous inconvenience for the residents.
The police messengers went to convey this to the minister but came back with the message that he had now said he would meet the delegates on 3 July instead of 26 June.
The protesters became restive and demanded an early appointment.
Again, a vague assurance came that the appointment would be advanced, without specifying any date.
The people decided they would not leave until the government made a commitment on the date of the talks. There was no further communication from the latter, but not a rejection of the demand either.
Late in the evening, police officers even came and inquired with the activists whether they planned to stay at the spot for the night and paternalistically talked about the necessity of arranging “protection” as there were so many women among them.
And Suddenly There Was The Lathi Charge.
The wounded were initially herded into the central lock-up at the Kolkata Police headquarters along with the others. They were taken to the Calcutta Medical College Hospital only after their co-prisoners raised a hue and cry inside the lock-up particularly after seeing Sanjay Mandal, a committee member from Nonadanga, writhing in pain before them and from the outside, APDR members began to intervene and express concern to high-ranking police officials calling for urgent medical attention.
The officers though still denied that there was any lathi charge at all!
Earlier report -
Since 11am, residents of Nonadanga started a roadside demonstration/dharna in the Esplanade area. It is being reported that the police carried out a massive lathicharge on the dharna and several persons had to be admitted to Medical College for treatment. While negotiations were going on about when the concerned minister can give an appointment to hear about the grievances, police started picking up certain selected activists at around 8pm and then lathicharged to disperse the rest. Around 40 persons have been arrested including Amitabha Bhattacharya (the chairman of the Uchched Pratirodh Committee) and Samik Chakraborty (who is also an activist of Sanhati).



Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement :- 


Today, Kolkata police had carried out a massive and brutal lathicharge on the Nonadanga slum-dwellers & mass activists who were in a demonstration protest at Esplanade,Kolkata. All the protesters were heavily beaten up including women & children.
The protesters started their demonstration against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga slum & also against the recent attack on the slum-dwellers by the goons backed by TMC.
In spite of all these incidents and police brutality, any media, be it electronic or print, has totally blacked out any news and update about the ongoing movement in Nonadanga and hasn’t reported any of these incidents.
At near about 8 p.m., police started to pick up selected mass activists who were in the movement from the very beginning & then brutally lathicharged to disperse the rest of the protestors.
Many of the protesters were admitted to the hospital while 6 of them were seriously injured & is reported in a very serious condition.
Around 40 protesters are being arrested along with Shamik Chakraborty (activist of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad),Amitabha Bhattacharya (president of anti-eviction committee, Nonadanga) & others.
This is clear that the state govt. don’t want to hear any voice of protest & criticism. This brutal attack on these protesters has clearly exposed the autocratic and authoritarian state machinery which is fiercely trying to silent any voice of protest.


Stand firm in the face of state repression.
Come together to protest this fascist trend of the govt.
Demand immediate unconditional release of all the prisoners who have been arrested illegally with forged cases. 
Join the movement against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga
Reject the development model where common people are expended in order to raise corporate profit    

Editor of Towards New Dawn Abhijnan Sarkar and several other activists like Deblina Chakrabarty are arrested on 8th April 2012, when they were protesting against an eviction drive of slum dwellers by state officials at Nonadanga, Kolkata. They are framed with several false charges and put under detention till now. Towards New Dawn demands unconditional release of its editor and all other activists.- contact at towardsdawn@gmail.com

Read more news here

Solidarity statement from Bangalore with anti-eviction basti struggles in Mumbai and Kolkata


June 11, 2012
Dayanandnagar slum residents group , in s Bangalore send their solidarity  supportwith the basti dwellers fighting eviction in slums of Mumbai and Kolkata after seeing pictures and films of their struggles. We also know such struggles are happening everywhere, in our own city such as E.W.S quarters and in other cities besides Mumbai and Kolkata, and we are trying to reach out to learn more and join hands to fight together. When we saw the photos of struggle in Mumbai and Kolkata we felt we had to reach out by letter as these struggles are so far away. Attached is our statement in Kannada and below is a translation into English. In the English translation we added in brackets some points which were discussed after our letter was first drafted in Kannada at the meeting.

 

“We in the dalit and women’s group of Dayanandnagar slum, work on slum resident issues. With respect to these issues, we join hands with you in struggle against the violent oppression directed at you. In both the Koliwada, (Ambujwada) and Golibar struggles in Mumbai, and the Nonadanga struggle in Kolkatta, police violence and the eviction of people from their homes by government officials took place. We oppose the police violence and atrocities, (including the molestation and mishandling of women by male police officers while repressing protests), and the arrogance and oppression of the government officials. We support you, and are with you, hence this letter”

 

in solidarity,
Dayanandnagar slum residents:
Kavitha G
Shivani
Kaveri R.I.
Narasimha
Mani S
Kavitha
Asha
Govinda
Shakeela
Maala
G. Justin
Vasegi
Vanaja A.
P. Venkatesh
Rajeshwari R.

 

Police Brutality- Citizen Caned


Citizen caned

Anahita Mukherji | May 19, 2012, Times Crest

 

 

FACING UP: Hospital reports corroborate Soni Sori's allegations of custodial torture (above); Bangalore youth Sampath (left) who was allegedly tortured by city police in March last year seeks justice

Victims of police brutality rarely get justice. The procedures for seeking redressal are complicated and often the panelists on the Police Complaint Authority are men in uniform. The Soni Sori incident is a case in point.

If you are arrested for no fault of yours and severely tortured in jail, will the perpetrators be brought to book? If a policeman hammers you in full public view, will he ever be punished ? If you were to put these questions to Ramesh Rawat, he is likely to shake his head in despair. Two years ago, this rickshaw driver says, he was brutally beaten up by the police on the streets of Dehradun for questioning a policeman who issued him a chalan. “He beat me so badly that I was hospitalised and had to undergo surgery, ” says Rawat in a telephonic interview with TOI-Crest.

He complained about the policeman to the Uttarakhand Police Complaint Authority (PCA), but nothing came of it. “I have submitted medical reports of my injuries and testified several times before the authority, but the case is still pending, ” he says. “The police even put me under lock-up to force me to withdraw the complaint. One of the members of the PCA is a retired IPS officer. He even swore at me and argued that I must have done something wrong. “

While Uttarakhand has a retired IPS officer on its PCA, Kerala, the only state to have PCAs at the state and district level, has serving police officers on its PCAs.

“I have sat through a session at a Kerala PCA where the complainant, a victim of police torture, was unable to speak or register his complaint because the man in front of him was in uniform, ” says Navaz Kotwal, Police Reforms Coordinator with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Kotwal edited a CHRI report released earlier this year called Police Complaints Authorities: Reforms Resisted. Rawat was one of many victims interviewed for the report.

Accurate statistics on police violations are virtually impossible to come by. The available data paints a bleak picture of police accountability. “Of the total complaints registered against police officers in 2009, departmental, magisterial and judicial inquiries were instituted in only about 46 per cent of the complaints . . . 51. 2 per cent remained un-investigated, ” says the report. Further, of 1, 279 cases against police officers sent for trial in 2009, only142 trials were completed and even in these, 70 per cent of police personnel were acquitted, says the report.

“There are multiple channels through which one can complain against the police. Depressingly most of them don’t work, ” says former IPS officer YP Singh, who cited corruption as the reason for quitting the service.

According to Singh, the nexus between junior police officers and their seniors, as well as the one between the police and politicians whom they have paid for postings, ensures that little action is ever taken against the police.

In 2006, the Supreme Court directed each state to set up a Police Complaints Authority both at the state and district levels. But CHRI’s recent report shows that only 18 of 28 states have set up a PCA. Of the 18, the authority is functional in only eight states: Assam, Chandigarh, Haryana, Goa, Kerala, Puducherry, Tripura and Uttarakhand. None of the PCAs comply with all the Supreme Court guidelines. Those that are functional are often designed to fail.

For starters, states have needlessly complicated procedures for filing a complaint. According to the Assam Police Act, complaints against police officers need to be accompanied by a sworn statement. There is also a fine for frivolous complaints.

In Uttarakhand, complaints must be on stamp paper. Victims need to submit multiple copies of the complaint and the cost of notarising a complaint is Rs 500. Victims are daunted enough to hire lawyers to represent them. Except in Kerala, victims have to travel long distances to register a complaint at the state PCA.

The very composition of the PCA often violates the SC order, according to which the chairman of the state-level PCA must be a retired High Court/ Supreme Court judge chosen by the state government from a panel of names proposed by the chief justice.

The other members are to be chosen by the government from a panel prepared by the state human rights commission. In practice, all members of functional PCAs are appointed directly by state governments.
The Haryana PCA consists of a single member, a retired IAS officer as chair. Kerala has subverted the system by appointing serving police officers and “no independent members who do not wear the government hat. “

The Tripura Police Act says that not more than one member of the PCA should be a police officer. In violation of its own Act, there are two retired police officers as members.

“Complainants recounted experiences of further threats, and even physical torture and illegal detention in some cases, after they complained to the PCA, or when they tried to file an FIR against the police officers concerned, ” says the report.
“It is very difficult for an ordinary person to register an FIR against anyone. It is virtually impossible to register an FIR against the police. If you try to do so in Chhattisgarh, the police will brutally beat you and then register a case of Naxalism against you, ” alleges Colin Gonsalves, Supreme Court advocate and founder director, Human Rights Law Network.

“The maximum that a PCA would do is to recommend that an FIR be registered against the police officer or that a departmental inquiry be held. This means that after the PCA spends time carrying out its own inquiry the police must carry out a similar one against its own officials, ” says Kotwal. He points to several instances in Chandigarh where a departmental inquiry has given a police officer a clean chit despite the PCA recommending action against him.

“We had gone on a hunger strike in prison to protest the fact that the person in charge of investigating our wrongful arrest and detention was the person who had put us in jail to begin with, ” says social activist Arun Ferriera, wrongfully jailed for four years on the false charge of being a Naxalite.

He says the biggest problem when it comes to registering a complaint of custodial torture is finding witnesses, as the only witnesses are other police officials or prisoners who are anyway in the hands of the police.
The CHRI report cites a case where a person threatened to lodge a complaint against the officer for naming him an accused in false cases. To this the officer said, “If you make a complaint against the police, you’ll have to approach the police;and you know nothing will come of it. “

This is a sad fact both the public and the police are aware of. Take for instance a case where a 16-year-old boy was assaulted by a builder over a family dispute in 2009. When his parents approached the police, they refused to register a complaint against the builder and registered a case against the boy instead. The family complains of continued police harassment, with no action taken against the errant police office

THE UNTOLD STORY – Perils of Protest


From cops flashing their private parts to bystanders taking advantage of the crowd and confusion to grope them, women protesters often go through hell on India’s rough streets. Sunday Times finds out shocking tales of sexual harassment, abuse and molestation

Maitreyee Boruah , TOI, April 29, 2012

A31, Minoti Saikia has been to jail thrice. Her crime? Participating in a protest. In cities across India, protests are a regular affair. What is not so regular is the treatment meted out to protesters, especially the women. “I always thought it’s easier to get heard if you are a woman, until I hit the streets with placards and banners in my hand. Police lathicharge was something I was expecting but the groping and abuses hit me like a bolt from the blue,” says the Guwahati-based activist.
Minoti was arrested recently while staging a peaceful protest against the construction of a hydro-electric project. She remembers the details vividly. “We were holding a demonstration that was completely non-violent. The police suddenly came and started dragging women by the hair. It was almost 2.30 in the night. We didn’t know how to react. I was numbed when I felt somebody running his hands down my back and waist. It was horrible.”
What is even more horrible is how bystanders also take advantage of the situation. “There have been many instances when people in the crowd have joined the commotion and started groping women protesters. That, too, in broad daylight,” says Minoti. However, it is tales of policemen molesting women protesters that are shockingly — and increasingly — becoming common. Besides physical assault, there is a lot of verbal abuse hurled at women. “The kind of expletives that the cops use can leave years of mental trauma on any woman,” says Mridula Kalita, secretary of Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti, which takes up causes like eviction of farmers and anti-dam protests.
Incidentally, it’s not just women in the lower socioeconomic group that are targeted. In March this year, female advocates in
Bangalore who were protesting in the civil court premises came back with horror stories about the police. “Some of them unzipped their pants and flashed at us. They pulled our sarees and groped us. We had seen in films such incidents about the police. We saw in reality also what they are capable of doing,” one of them said.
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, a lawyer and human rights activist testifies to the extreme vulnerability of women protesters. She recalls her own experience with the Mumbai police when she was protesting against the Chhattisgarh High Court’s decision of prolonging the incarceration of Binayak Sen. “I was brutally assaulted by the police and dragged to the Colaba police station,” she says. “My ‘crime’ was standing silently with a poster proclaiming peace and justice! The cops came and attacked me and even tore my T-shirt. I had to cover myself when they took me to the police station but I did not care at all — it was for them to be ashamed.”
Sameera Khan, co-author of Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai’s Streets, says that women are at risk of sexual harassment in any large crowd or mob — not just during protests but even while entering crowded railway stations. “What makes it worse is that in large groups, it is often impossible to identify the perpetrator.”
In the rare scenario when the perpetrators are caught, they are seldom punished. In 2006, for instance, a Punjab police personnel was clicked on camera molesting a girl during a peaceful protest by a group of veterinary doctors and students in Amritsar. Even though the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu notice after the picture appeared in a leading English daily, the police personnel were given a clean chit by the court later.
Madhu Kishwar, founder of Manushi, a forum for democratic reforms, says that the problem lies in the way the police are trained in India. “This is a result of bad training and poor recruitment policies. Police in our country neither know how to handle large numbers, nor have they been trained on how to behave in a democracy.”
It’s not as if police brutality towards women protesters is limited to India. In December last year, shocking images surfaced of riot police in Egypt brutally beating a woman with metal bars. The woman’s hijab was ripped off and she was kicked repeatedly on the chest till she became unconscious.
Activists say that such blatant violence is slowly affecting women protesters. “There are so many instances when our fellow women protesters have given up joining protests because of cases of molestation,” says Kalita. Adds Nandita Shah, co-founder of Akshara, an organisation that aims at empowering women, “There needs to be an urgent change in the way society treats women during protests. The only other option for women is not to protest at all.”
Not a great thing that for democracy.
With inputs from Anahita Mukherji

ROUGH ROAD A Tibetan woman activist is hauled away by policemen in Delhi, March 2012; (left) Egyptian riot police personnel brutally attack a woman, December 2011, and (right) Arpita Majumdar, a final-year medical student, became the face of defiant women protesters in 2006 by taking the onslaught of a water cannon, chin up