Give Maoists political prisoner status as stated by Calcutta High Court


March 22, Kolkata– “The state government must immediately withdraw the petition challenging the Calcutta High Court’s decision. Political prisoner status is a democratic right and the government cannot take away this right,” said Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) secretary Dhiral Sengupta.

The Calcutta High Court August 2012 had granted political prisoner status to seven Maoists including Gaur Narayan Chakraborty and tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato, spokesperson of Maoist backed Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities.

The state government subsequently filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the order. The apex court stayed the order.

The APDR also urged the Mamata Banerjee government in the state not to amend the law granting political prisoner status.

“The government should desist from lowering the dignity of the state assembly by trying to amend a law and deny a basic democratic right of people who fight for political justice. This government is behaving like the British rulers,” added Sengupta.

Following the Calcutta High Court order, the union home ministry had written to the state government seeking an amendment in the West Bengal Correctional Services Act, 1992, to prevent Maoists and other militants from getting status of political prisoners.

IANS

#India-NHRC questions sterlising women unhygenically #vaw #womenrights #reproductive rights


Kolkata, Feb 11 : Days after over 100 women were sterilised in a single day at a health camp under unhygienic conditions, the NHRC Monday issued a notice to the West Bengal government.

On the basis of a media report and a complaint, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to the principal secretary, health, West Bengal, and to the district magistrate of Malda, returnable in six weeks.

The complainant said that over 100 women were sterilised by two doctors in a day without ensuring basic healthcare facilities.

“The sterilisation operations were performed at a camp at Manikchak village health centre, Malda district. After the surgeries, women were left in the open outside the health centre for recuperation. Some of them were sent to their homes in rickshaws without keeping them under observation for a mandatory period post surgery,” the NHRC said in a statement.

The complainant has demanded a high-level inquiry, action against the erring doctors and monetary relief to the victims.

Due to lack of space in the health centre, some women were dumped unconscious in a field after the mass sterilisation.

The state government has ordered a probe into the incident.

Source: IANS

 

7 Bangladeshi juveniles are languishing in Indian Home, even after completion of their terms


28th November 2012

 

To

The Hon’ble Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi – 1

 

Hon’ble Sir,

 

We write to draw your attention to the situation that seven minor boys (details are furnished in the list herein below) areillegally detained in ‘Anandashram’ Home, an observation home for children in conflict with law in Berhampore, West Bengal. They were arrested long back and framed under penal charges.

 

Information has been received that enquiry against them has already been completed under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000. But till date they have been detained in the home in violation of sections 38 and 39 of the Act.  

 

Section 38 & 39 of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000 states that—-

 

Section 38- Transfer. – (1) If during the inquiry it is found that the child hails from the place outside the jurisdiction of the Committee, the Committee shall order the transfer of the child to the competent authority having jurisdiction over the place of residence of the child.

(2) Such juvenile or the child shall be escorted by the staff of the home in which he is lodged originally.

(3) The State Government may make rules to provide for the travelling allowance to be paid to the child.

 

Section 39- Restoration. – (1) Restoration of and protection to a child shall be the prime objective of any children’s home or the shelter home.

(2) The children’s home or a shelter home, as the case may be, shall take such steps as are considered necessary for the restoration of and protection to a child deprived of his family environment temporarily or permanently where such child is under the care and protection of a children’s home or a shelter home, as the case may be.

(3) The Committee shall have the powers to restore any child in need of care and protection to his parent, guardian, fit person or fit institution, as the case may be, and give them suitable directions.

Explanation.- For the purposes of this section “restoration of child” means restoration to-

(a) parents;

(b) adopted parents;

(c) foster parents.—-

 

 

The children are eligible for immediate release and should be repatriated back to Bangladesh at the earliest in co-ordination with the respective High Commission.

 

We request you to look into this matter and take immediate steps towards his release in coordination with the government of India and initiate the process of repatriation so that the child can go back to his country without delay.

It has been months now that the children are still in the observation home and we fear that he will face indefinite stay if urgent action towards his release and repatriation is not taken.

 

We urge you to take the following action at the earliest:

  • Coordinate with Ministry of External Affairs & Ministry of Home Affairs,  Government of India; Government of West Bengal and Juvenile Justice Board, Berhampore, Murshidabad, West Bengal to take immediate steps towards release and restoration of the children
  • Provide consular services and a lawyer for the children in case the children have no legal representation.
  • Initiate action towards repatriation of the children so that the children can be sent back to the home country as soon as the child is released.
  • Ensure safety and rehabilitation of the children post release and post repatriation in lieu of the difficult time spent in a custodial setting in an observation home for months now.
  • We also urge that proper and effective steps should be taken from now on so that no child arrested  either by police or Border Security Force under the Foreigners’ Act’ is detained in custody and they must immediately be sent to their homes.  

 

We hope that you would share our concern for the children towards their safety and well-being in order to avoid any circumstance that leads to injustice.


Kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter.

 

Thanking You

Yours truly,

 

 

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

&

National Convener, PACTI

          Name and details

Name & Father’s name Address Age Date of arrest Case reference Sections charged
Jamil Hossain, s/o Mr. Ajahar Ali village – Bhabanipur, Post Office- Dubal Hati, Police Station and District- Nowgaon, Bangladesh 16 years 20.11.10 Habibpur Police Station Caseno.188/10, dated 20.11.12 U/S 14 (a) (b) of Foreigner’s Act
Helal Ali, s/o Mr. Asraful Ali village +Post Office- Char Alatuli, Sarkarpara, District- Chapai Nawabgunj, Bangladesh 13 years 25.05.11 Lalgola Police Station Case no. 242/11 dated 25/05/2011 U/S 14(a) and (b) Foreigner’s Act
Selim Sekh, s/o Mr. Sadek Sekh Village -Tarapur P.O. Sahapur Police Station-
Shibgunj, Dist-Chapai Nawabgunj, Bangladesh
17 years 20.08.11 Baishnabnagar P.S. Case no-206/11
dated 20/08/2011
U/S 14 (a) and (b) Foreigner’s Act
Abdul Jabbar, s/o  Mr. Rabiul Islam Village- Bhuglaori Pakhiyapara, P.O.Babupur Police Station- Shingong District-  Chapai Nawabgunj, Bangladesh 17 years 27.08.11 Baishnabnagar PS  Case no 215/11 dated 27/08/2011 U/S 279/411 of
Indian Penal Code and 14 (a) & (b) Foreigner’s Act
Anarul Islam, s/o Mr. Safiqul Islam Village Sahapara ,Police Station- Shibgunj, District Chapai Nawabgunj, Bangladesh

 

 

 

16 years 24.08.11 Baishnabnagar P.S. Case
no.210/11 dated 24/08/2011
U/S 14 (a) and (b) Foreigner’s Act
Borjahan Ali, s/o Md. Islam Ali village Nomo Jaganathpur P.O – Hasanpur,  P.S- Shibgunj Dist-Chapai Nawabgunj, Bangladesh 17 years 07.09.11 Baishnabnagar
PS Case no. 233/11 dated 7/9/2011
U/S 14 (a) and (b) Foreigner’s Act
Abubakkar Siddique, s/o Late Arsad Ali Village Thutapara, P.O- Sahapur,P.S- Shibgunj, Dist -  Chapai Nawabgunj, Bangladesh 17 years 02.01.12 Baishnabnagar PS Case no.  4/12 dated 02.01.12 U/S 447/332/353/34of Indian Penal Code, 3 of The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and 14 (a), (b) and (c) Foreigner’s Act

 


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

Mamata bans IPS officer’s book critical of her Muslim policy #censorship #foe #fos


 

Express news service : Kolkata, Mon Sep 03 2012

The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal has banned controversial IPS officer , Musalmander Ki Karaniya (What Muslims Should Do), in which he has highlighted the alleged plight of Muslims in the state and the “double standard” of the present government in “improving” their condition.

The book, which was released a month ago, has been published by Kolkata-based publisher Mitra and Ghosh.

On Saturday, officials from the Enforcement Branch of Kolkata Police raided the office, sales counter and godown of the publishing house and took away copies of the book.

Islam was not available for comment.

The intellectuals of the state have come out against the government’s move, calling it “draconian”. “We are shocked to know about the state government’s decision of banning the book,” said legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen. Noted littérateur Sunil Gangopadhyay also minced no words to protest the government’s decision. “This cultural policing (by the government) should be condemned by everybody,’’ he said.

The IPS officer, who was an ardent critic of the Left Front government, has penned down several books, a few of them criticising the role of the Marxists in controlling the police. He was censured by the Left Front government at that time and was allegedly denied promotions.

 

When Mamata Banerjee became Railway Minister, she made him an official of the Railways in charge of safety. But after Trinamool Congress came to power in the state, Mamata made him an officer on Special duty in the Home Department, which he refused.

Thereafter, Islam was made Additional Director General (Training) of West Bengal Police, a post he still holds.

The author received several literary awards and has also set up an engineering college at Domkol in Murshidabad district — his native place. According to reports, the author is planning to move court against the decision of the West Bengal government.

The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal has banned controversial IPS officer Nazrul Islam’s book, Musalmander Ki Karaniya (What Muslims Should Do), in which he has highlighted the alleged plight of Muslims in the state and the “double standard” of the present government in “improving” their condition.

The book, which was released a month ago, has been published by Kolkata-based publisher Mitra and Ghosh.

On Saturday, officials from the Enforcement Branch of Kolkata Police raided the office, sales counter and godown of the publishing house and took away copies of the book.

Islam was not available for comment.

The intellectuals of the state have come out against the government’s move, calling it “draconian”. “We are shocked to know about the state government’s decision of banning the book,” said legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen. Noted littérateur Sunil Gangopadhyay also minced no words to protest the government’s decision. “This cultural policing (by the government) should be condemned by everybody,’’ he said.

The IPS officer, who was an ardent critic of the Left Front government, has penned down several books, a few of them criticising the role of the Marxists in controlling the police. He was censured by the Left Front government at that time and was allegedly denied promotions.

 

When Mamata Banerjee became Railway Minister, she made him an official of the Railways in charge of safety. But after Trinamool Congress came to power in the state, Mamata made him an officer on Special duty in the Home Department, which he refused.

Thereafter, Islam was made Additional Director General (Training) of West Bengal Police, a post he still holds.

The author received several literary awards and has also set up an engineering college at Domkol in Murshidabad district — his native place. According to reports, the author is planning to move court against the decision of the West Bengal government.

 

Lalgarh will rise again, warns freed rebel leader- West Bengal #Mamata


English: The adivasi women of Lalgarh village ...

English: The adivasi women of Lalgarh village attending a meeting. Ever since the commencement of the movement from 5th November 2008, there has been a spurt in the adivasi women actively participating in politics and democratic meetings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caesar Mandal, TNN Aug 8, 2012

After the encounter death of Kishanji, the Maoists have apparently lost their power to challenge the Bengal government. The cadres are demoralized and it is reflected in the series of recent surrenders. At a time like this, one of the most senior Maoist leaders, Ashok alias Chandi Sarkar, has been released from prison. The rebel party is looking up to this veteran leader for its revival in Bengal. The 67-year-old former state committee member speaks to Caesar Mandal…

Has Lalgarh failed to advance the Maoist movement in the state?

I don’t think that Lalgarh upsurge has failed. It’s true that we are on the back-foot. Many of our party workers and leaders are behind bars or martyred. We even lost a leader like Kishanji. His death is undoubtedly a major jolt to the organization across the country. But despite these severe losses, we will be able to recover, since a large section of the masses is still with us. The people of Lalgarh and the entire Jangalmahal are waiting for another spontaneous movement.

Is the bonhomie with mainstream political parties, especially Trinamool Congress in Nandigram and Lalgarh, a key reason for the failure of the Maoists in Bengal?

No. It was never against our party line. We have a specific direction that for the sake of revolutionary movement, the party may join hands with the grassroots level workers of other political parties who are in distress. It was a strategic alliance in Nandigram and Lalgarh, where a large section of people from the Trinamool grassroots joined the resistance. The same question was raised after the Garbeta episode, where the former ruling party, CPM, took our help. But we knew that soon after getting their domain back, CPM would make an all-out effort to wipe us out.

If you were aware of this, how did the Trinamool-led government inflict such heavy damage on your party soon after being sworn in?

It’s true that we have suffered more organisational losses during the new regime than in previous years. Such strategic alliances need to be planned very carefully after identifying the real friend or the right person for the organization. In Lalgarh, the party definitely made mistakes.

Do you think that the reins of the Lalgarh movement went out of the hands of your party leadership?

The Lalgarh upsurge was a spontaneous flare-up of the grievances of Jangalmahal people. In the field, it is difficult to bridle all the acts. It’s true that more control was needed, but I am not the right person to comment as I was not in Lalgarh. There were definitely some faults and my party leadership is probing them. But I would again say that the apparent crushing of Lalgarh’s upsurge is temporary, since the government could not solve the basic problems that gave rise to the movement. The land will raise the voice of protest once again.

Your comrades are under pressure across the country. Even your party headquarters Abujmad is under attack. You have lost a number of senior leaders…

Temporary setback is a part of revolutionary movement. Since 2005 we have lost important leaders like Kishanji and Azad. Unlike revolutionary organizations in other countries, since the spring thunder – the Naxalbari upsurge – Indian revolutionary parties have always lost their leadership.

It’s a mad trend of Indian movement that despite such serious losses, the mass support helps us survive. No one can say that we have lost control over our domain. In other states like Chhattishgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand, my party comrades are brilliantly taking on the tremendous state repression and advancing the organization. We are getting stronger. New leaders are emerging and the resistance will get more intense.

Our party will soon reply to the state forces with a major blow. Wait and see.

Do you think it will be easy to revive the Bengal unit when most of the senior leadership is in jail or killed?

At present our organization in Bengal is far behind other states. It’s not easy to recover from such losses, but not too difficult either. I am not saying that in a few months we will be able to reconstruct the state committee and other area committees, which have suffered major damages. I can’t even say that we will soon be able to counter the state forces. The situation is not easy to regroup and plan a fresh stir. But I can assure that we will be back with a stronger organization. Because there are millions of victims of oppression and it’s our job to spearhead their grievances towards a movement.

What’s your immediate plan to rebuild the party in Bengal?

At present, mass movement is very important. We would inspire people to build up a strong mass resistance to release the political prisoners. It’s now our immediate goal.

We have to keep in mind that with the time, the nature of the class struggle is changing. Problems are changing and accordingly party will have to act.

What’s your view about the recent split in Nepal Maoist party?

The only thing I can say that if the leaders of the new party had split a year ago, then there would have been less loss in the organization. It should have been done long before when the party adopted Prachanda’s parliamentary politics line. I congratulate the new party for going back to revolutionary line leaving parliamentary politics.

Can you rule out a party insider’s hand behind Kishanji’s death?

Some mistakes were definitely committed that led to the death of Kishanji. For long, the party was worried about his security. The party alerted him and he had the expertise to handle such hazards. Perhaps, for some practical reasons, he could not follow all the security directiveslaid down by the party. Your hint is very clear – whether party workers present there had betrayed or not. I would say it was not easy for the persons you hint at to trap him. We are probing what had happened. The truth will come out soon.

Dr Binayak Sen urges ‘intolerant’ Bengal to change policies


(He speaks in Bangla and Bonglish in it. Below is the text from the description of the video.)
4th MAY, 2012, NONADANGA, kolkata
Binayak Sen urges ‘intolerant’ Bengal to change policies

In the wake of the forcible eviction of people from slums in eastern Kolkata, human rights activist Binayak Sen Friday accused the West Bengal government of being “intolerant” and urged it to change its policies to provide people a better living.

“The basis of our democracy is that there should be tolerance for dissent. Where there is no tolerance, there is no democracy. The state should be sympathetic to them but on the contrary it is increasing their sorry plight,” said Sen who visited the Nonadanga area.

“It is a matter of shame in which the people are being treated. They do not have access to drinking water, distribution of food grains through public distribution system, schools and medical facilities,” he said and promised medical facilities to the families living there.

Sen also criticised the government for arresting the slum dwellers who had been protesting against their eviction.

He also rubbished claims by the government of involvement of Maoists in the protests, saying: “Referring to people as Maoists is a shortcut which the state is using against the people.”

Sen had earlier also been critical of the government for displacing the dwellers.

“It (eviction) is a great tragedy and a great crime committed. It is really inhumane on the part of the government to displace the people without providing viable alternative and livelihood options,” Sen had said Sunday.

The evictees announced they would bring out a rally in the city and meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on May 17 demanding shelter and proper rehabilitation for the families living in the slum.

The activist urged the people from all sections of society to come out and support the residents in their struggle.

The area has witnessed trouble since March 30 after nearly 130 families were evicted from the slum because of an ongoing project of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority.

Mamata gags the Dodhichi newsletter #FOE #Censorship


Now, it is the turn of the alternative media in West Bengal to be at the receiving end of governmental intolerance. There is a clampdown on a unique mobile alert service in Kolkata, writes RANJIT SUR, in The Hoot

 Friday, May 04 09:39:52, 2012

The Mamata Banerjee Government in West Bengal is trying its best to gag the language media. It is not news anymore. To some extent she is exposed in this regard, and people are protesting against such a move. But gagging a small but very important alternative media centre remained out of sight of the people. It is mainly because the big press or the corporate media have not shown any interest over it. Moreover, most of the media persons even do not understand what alternative media could be. So the news of gagging of  the Dodhichi Newsletter did not find any place in any major publication in Kolkata, in print or on TV media, barring a line or two in a couple of news media.
What is the Dodhichi Newsletter? According to its director, Dr Shyamal Roy, “Dodhichi Newsletter is a Kolkata-based cellphone text messaging service disseminating information, news, and views not appearing in the mainstream media.” It is in operation running since 2010. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Government of India, Dr Ray said: “ Our service provides a platform to hundreds of freelance news-gatherers, social and cultural activists, and NGOs and reaches out to a select list of thousands of message receivers, among them MPS, MLAs, Ministers, political leaders as well as eminent personalities in various fields.“
This writer himself is a message receiver and sender listed with Dodhichi. It’s a unique service, at least in Kolkata. There is no other service of this kind here. During the last two and a quarter years it has provided wonderful service to all the mass organisations and their activists.
Whenever an organisation calls for a demonstration or rally, or any State crackdown occurs on any mass organisation, a single text message (SMS) sent to Dodhichi was enough to inform and mobilise all the activists. Through the Dodhichi mobile newsletter the SMS containing the information reached hundreds of interested persons within seconds. Within a short time, the activists could decide on their duty or they could assemble at the place of demonstration or at the site of the happenings.
During the last months of Budhadeb Bhattacharjee government Mamata Banerjee got the benefit of this service, as it was the time of anti- government and anti-establishment mass movements. Dodhichi was very active in sending news of these movements to its subscriber activists and supporters. But within months of Mamata’s coming to power she began expressing her displeasure publicly against this SMS service. In several public outbursts she publicly criticised this service and Facebook  and Twitter. The first direct attack occurred about six months ago during the Chief Minister’s outbursts against APDR, a rights organisation. The Government of West Bengal cancelled permission to APDR to hold a public meeting in Kolkata, and many intellectuals including Mahasweta Devi and Sankha Ghosh critisised the Chief Minister for this attack on democracy. As Dodhichi was actively sending SMS containing all condemnations and about all protest programmes, one morning policemen in plain clothes went to Dodhichi’s office located on the outskirts of Kolkata. As informed by Dr Ray, the policemen introduced themselves as journalists and entered his office. But within minutes they started collecting mobiles phones, computers, and data base registers. Dr Ray and his family members protested vigorously, and the policemen slipped away.
This time, the Mamata government did not make the same mistake for fear of public resistance. It went the other way round to stop Dodhichi Mobile Newsletter. As Dr Shyamal Ray complained to the Central Government, “on 9 April we discovered that most of our SIM cards (57 of them) had suddenly been deactivated, causing us to suspend our service and of a great deal of inconvenience to those availing of it. The service-provider (Docomo) when contacted, could not give us a credible explanation.” It was at the height of Nonadanga anti-eviction movement when a series of rallies and processions and demonstrations was going on in the City against the Mamata government’s eviction drive and throttling of democracy in the State. And alas, without Dodhichi’s mobile SMS service.
Why did this happen to Dodhichi? Dr Ray wrote to the Government of India: “Next day, Khabar 365 din, a Bengali daily published from Kolkata, presented a front-page story suggesting that Dodhichi Newsletter had been disbanded by orders from the State Home Department.” This writer has gone through the concerned front-page report. The report said that the reason for the Home ministry’s action, as usual, was “anti-state campaign” by Dodhichi through SMS service. Dodhichi’s Dr Shyamal Ray, on enquiry by this writer, expressed his anger and raised the question: “what is anti-state campaign and who decides it?” He explained: “Dodhichi only sends news and views related to legal and constitutional activities and mass movements. What is anti-government does not necessarily mean anti-state. Everyone has the right to criticise or support the government’s policy and send news and views of the movements for or against the government’s policies. This is constitutionally guaranteed”. So, he wrote to the government: “…we are still in the dark about why our service has been abruptly terminated in this manner, without stating any reason and without notice. And if the story published in the Bengali daily is true, then it certainly is tantamount to ‘censorship’, a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed free speech”. He urged the Central Government, to “clarify the matter immediately and instruct the service provider to re-activate the SIM cards so that our service is resumed at the soonest.” The letter was written on April 11. Even as of April 22 he had not received any reply from any quarter. The copy of the letter has been endorsed to the Home Secretary, Government of West Bengal too. However, the 57 SIM cards remain in-operative, and a severe hate campaign is going on against Dodhichi and against its subscribers and contributors in some pro-government newspapers branding them as anti-state and members of “urban Mao-network”.
It is clear that it is a coordinated move of the government and the ruling party to silence this mobile newsletter. The design is to stop spreading of news of the government’s anti-people activities and to cause as much hindrance as possible to anti-government mass movements.
Dodhichi Mobile newsletter has not stopped fully. The spirit of Dr Shyamal Ray, a super-annuated physician, is indomitable. Dodhichi is still running the service, though in a small way, with SIMs from a different service provider which has a number of restrictions and do’s and don’ts.
According to Dr Shyamal Ray, he has a data base of 500300 subscribers who send to and receive SMS from him on various issues. He has divided these numbers in groups according to their areas of interest. The group interested in rights movement and other mass-political activity has 550 subscribers. There are cultural groups interested in music or drama and there are group of MPs and MLAs, doctors and so on. Dodhichi’s service is free of cost. All the subscribers need to do is register their mobile number, name and address with him along with their area of interest. How does he run this service? Where does money come from? Dr Ray says that initially he had to spend Rs. 2.5 lakh procuring good quality mobile phones and a computer. The money was from his superannuation benefits.
Now his monthly expenditure is Rs. 2000 which he gets from his headmistress wife, daughter, and son-in-law. He receives no money from any other source. He himself runs his office along with his family members. He works for 12 hours a day.
Dodhichi is insignificant so far as the number of its subscribers is concerned. Yet the rulers seem to be bent on crushing it. Is the government afraid of alternative thought? Not only that Dodhichi’s services should be allowed to continue without any governmental intervention, but more such vibrant services should flourish in different parts of the country.

(The author is a secretariat member, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, and contributes to newspapers and websites in Bengali and English)

60-yr-old law shrouds Paoli poster ‘skin show’ in Bengal #censorship


 

Saibal Sen & Priyanka DasguptaSaibal Sen & Priyanka Dasgupta, TNN | Apr 20, 2012,

KOLKATA: The Bengal governmentcontinues to play moral guardian with an obsolete tool of the Seventies, guiding people on what posters to see and what they should not.The state has been debating ‘obscenity’ since the days of celebrated Bengali writer Buddhadeb Bose‘s novel ‘Raat Bhor Brishti’ that went to press in 1968. Author Samaresh Basuhad to face the same censorship and went through a protracted legal battle till the Supreme Court lifted the ban on his novel ‘Projapati’ in 1985.The debate still continues – this time it’s over two posters of Vikram Bhatt‘s ‘Hate Story’, releasing on Friday. One has its main protagonist Paoli Dam sowing her “bare back” and another in a “compromising position with a man.” A ban has been imposed on these two posters under the West Bengal (Compulsory Censorship of Film Publicity Materials) Act, 1974 (only Tamil Nadu has a similar law). The West Bengal Board of Censorship allowed six posters only after Paoli’s bare back was covered up in blue paint.

The Act was passed nearly 60 years ago in the Bengal assembly for primarily two expressed reasons – and another unsaid. The Cinematography Act 1952 does not directly cover “obscene” posters and hence a local law was required. The other was to stop the seemingly obscene B-grade film posters flooding Kolkata in the ’70s. The unsaid reason, many believe, was to give the government control over what posters can be “shown in public places” and what not.

The then information and cultural affairs minister Subrata Mukherjee doesn’t recollect the precise reason why he brought in this law, but stresses that all talk of it being an Emergency-era law is wrong, “Emergency was imposed in June 26, 1975, much later,” he said. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee looks after the department now, with Mukherjee a key member of her cabinet.

People have changed over time, but not the law. Celebrated filmmaker Mrinal Sen says: “It is childish and should be considered in context of all that is happening now. There is censorship in every form. I feel this is insulting and should be rejected outright.”

“The law has no relevance now. How many films bank only on posters for promotion? Television, audio channels and internet now rule film promotions,” says Jadavpur University’s professor of film studies, Sanjay Mukhopadhyay.

Debananda Sengupta, I&CA deputy director and the state’s censor officer, argues, “In the pre-1974 phase there was a voluntary form of censorship. But with more films being produced there was felt a need for control. The law is only applicable to film posters and publicity material which are displayed in pubic places. Within the confines of a cinema hall, people can watch the film in its entirety. When it is in a public place, everyone watches it.”

Sudhasatta Banerjee, who had moved Calcutta high court on behalf of the ‘Hate Story’ producers, pleading that this law be termed unconstitutional, says: “Once a film is cleared under the Act any part of it can’t be deemed obscene if displayed publicly. The posters are part of movie stills. Second, the state’s 1974 Act doesn’t specify what is obscene – it is left to the discretion of a few officers. This is arbitrary.” The court has asked the state to file a reply to his petition and the case will come up for hearing again, said Bhattacharya.

Director Mahesh Bhatt, whose ‘Murder 2′ posters had met with a similar fate said: “While I have no problems with cultural sensitivity, I wonder what’s happening to Bengal that has been an epicenter of all kinds of subversive thoughts. How can the state support a repressive philosophy? We are living in the 21st century where gay relationships are getting recognised by the apex court, where men are into sperm donations and women are open to surrogate motherhood. How can a bare back of a woman offend sensibilities?”

Pritam Jalan, the distributor of “Hate Story”, says: “The government should consider abolishing this archaic law. I can distribute the posters in Ranchi but not in Kolkata. Isn’t that strange?” Producer Vikram Bhatt said: “I am not opposed to the government’s views but it’s important to have a holistic view. If you can allow a sexual deodorant, contraceptive or lingerie ad, how can you have problems with a movie poster? Won’t kids ask what a condom is when they see an ad? Going by this logic, the Bengal government must ban YouTube and all Internet porn sites.”

Release Deblina Chakraborty entrapped in UAPA and 6 other social activists


A Petition via change.org to The Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission:

Why This Is Important

We are deeply concerned about the dreadful incidents of barbarous atrocities by the West Bengal government upon the peaceful democratic protest movements of various mass organisations, civil rights groups and individuals opposing the forcible eviction of Nonadanga slum-dwellers in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’ of Kolkata followed by malicious arrests of the social activists and their continued detention and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist and people’s leader, implicating her in cooked-up charges.

On 8th April 2012, a huge contingent of police arrested 69 demonstrators from the Ruby Hospital crossing of EM Bypass of East Kolkata when they had been protesting against the violent demolition of the Nonadanga slums and forcible eviction of hundreds of populace of that colony on March 30th. All those protesters illegitimately apprehended including women and kids were put in the central lock-Up of the Kolkata police headquarter at Lalbazar for nine hours and cases under section 151 CrPc were slapped on them. In late evening, all the captives were released on PR bond except seven civil rights activists. Those activists kept in confinement were Deblina Chakraborty, Debjani Ghosh, Abhijnan Sarkar, Prof. (Dr.) Partho Sarathi Ray, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Samik Chakraborty and Manas Chatterjee. They were produced in the ACJM court of Alipore next day (9 April) and all of them were remanded to police custody till 12th April. They had falsely been charged with a number of stringent non-bailable criminal cases made-up by the police under Sections 141 (unlawful assembly), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (offence committed in prosecution of common objective of disruption), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force on public servant) of Indian Penal Code.

On 12th April, Deblina and all other detainees were sent to jail custody till 26th April after being produced in the court. Surprisingly, in the evening when the defense lawyers had left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Deblina Chakraborty in three additional cases—two of which are old cases related to “sedition and waging a war against the state” and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur during the tenure of the former Left Front government. Furthermore, she was tagged in an old murder case under UAPA. The magistrate granted the plea without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. Deblina was taken to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation and she will be remanded to CID custody till 21st April. The other six captives were sent to Alipore Central Jail.

Deblina 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 devotedly associated with the Singur Anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata Banerjee to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voices 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 Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPI (M) ruffians (harmads), and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by the gang of Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta. In this land struggle, the TMC, Congress, CPI, SUCI and other political forces also played their part within the BUPC.

The police under the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led left-front regime issued threats to arrest Deblina under the 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 — indubitably more brutal and vindictive– picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

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 Samity’ as a ‘satanic brigade’ to gag democratic dissent and protest menacingly and the police as usual condemned Deblina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will.

Deblina 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.

Deblina is a dedicated social activist who always fights for justice to the best of her ability and stands by the side of the oppressed people in their struggles for rights and dignity. Such a person has now been entrapped under the UAPA in a most conspiringly and cowardly manner. We are quite apprehensive that the intelligence officials would subject Deblina to brutal mental and physical torture in police custody 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 and cruel chief minister of West Bengal? Deblina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her.

At this juncture, we appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to condemn and raise their voices of protest against the despotic police action subverting the law and illegitimate arrests of all the social activists and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty on cooked-up charges.

Please demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate acquittal of Deblina Chakraborty and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the forcibly evicted people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

Please go through the petition and sign, and circulate it among your friends and colleagues as widely as possible.

For more news coverage updated regularly on these incidents please visit the site ‘Sanhati’ :http://sanhati.com/

1) Child spends 9 hours in police lockup, Times of India, 9 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-09/kolkata/31312546_1_police-station-agitators-demand-rehabilitation

2) Nonadanga: 7 in police custody, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/nonadanga-7-in-police-custody/934843/

3) CID appeals for custodial interrogation of Debolina Chakraborty, Times of India, 13 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-13/kolkata/31337086_1_cid-custody-nandigram-cases-custodial-interrogation

4) Rights activist with ‘Maoist links’ in CID custody till April 21, The Indian Express, 13 April, 2012

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Rights-activist-with–Maoist-links–in-CID-custody-till-April-21/936070/

5) Debolina starts hunger strike in jail, Times of India, 14 April, 2012

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-14/kolkata/31341596_1_hunger-strike-nonadanga-evictees-fasting

to sign the petition click here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-chairperson-of-national-human-rights-commission-release-deblina-chakraborty-entrapped-in-uapa-and-6-other-social-activists#

Joint Statement on Forcible Eviction and Police Brutalities in Kolkata


Immediate Release

Condemn the Eviction Drive in Nonadanga, Kolkata!

 

Demand Immediate Release of Arrested Activists!

 

The Trinamool Congress-led Government of West Bengal is daily showing its anti-people character. Its Police and the bulldozers of the KMDA (Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) razed to the ground and burnt the slums and homes of more than 800 people in Nonadanga, Kolkata on 30th March 2012. These are the same people who were resettled after evictions from various canal banks across Kolkata, and from the dispossessed from the hurricane Aila in 2009. A protest march called against the forceful eviction by residents and progressive organisations and individuals on 4th April was also brutally lathicharged by the Police, critically injuring many. Yesterday on 8th April, a sit-in demonstration was violently broken and 67 people were arrested, with false cases pressed on seven activists of various democratic mass organisations supporting the struggle.

 

They have been remanded in police custody till 12th April, and there is an attempt by the state to frame these democratic rights activists, falsely alleging that arms and   munitions have been found on them. Also on 9th April, 114 demonstrators who were protesting against these moves by the government were arrested from College Street. On 10th April, a huge consignment of police has cordoned off the entire area and the threat of imminent demolition even of the temporary tents and community kitchen looms large, reminding us of the situation in Singur in 2006.

 

The government had earlier refused to provide even basic amenities like water, school, drainage system and proper housing in these resettlement colonies and pushed them into an ‘illegal’ existence, and made them dependent on the networks of local Trinamool and CPI(M) goons. And now in the name of beautification, this violent eviction drive is set on the roll on these supposed ‘illegal encroachers’ whose cheap labour is ‘legally exploited’ to run the city’s economy. Anyone opposing this kind of violent ‘development’ of the

ruling classes, has been declared to be ‘Maoists’ and ‘inciting outsiders’ conveniently by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee again in her press statements to delegitimize the struggle, while the common lands of Kolkata are handed over to the corporate land sharks in the best traditions set up by the previous CPI(M)-led government.

 

WE, the undersigned organisations, condemn the arrests made on 8th April of protestors sitting in a demonstration in Ruby Junction, and demand that the 7 activists of various mass organisations who continue to be arrested be released and the false charges against them be dropped immediately, as the government is acting against the democratic right to organize and dissent.

 

We condemn the action of the Trinamool-led West Bengal Government and the brutal lathicharge on 4th April, and continued harassment by the Kolkata Police on the residents of Nonadanga and those protesting against the ongoing eviction process in the name of ‘beautification’ of the city, and demand action against the police officers involved.

We stand with the struggle of the residents of Nonadanga and demand an immediate halt to the eviction drive in the city and the anti-people development, and proper compensation and rehabilitation for all the slum dwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga and in the evictions all over Kolkata.

 

Issued by:
AIFTU (New)
AISA
AIRSO
Bigul Mazdoor Dasta
Delhi Metro Kamgar Union
Democratic Students Union
Disha Students Organisation
Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra
Jamia Teachers Solidarity Forum
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Krantikari Yuva Sangathan
Pragatishil Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha
Mehnatkash Patrika
Mazdoor Patrika
New Socialist Initiative
Peoples Democratic Front of India
People’s Union for Democratic Rights
Posco Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi
Sanhati, Delhi
Students for Resistance
Vidyarthi Yuvajan Sabha