Kolkata – ‘Lock-up for protest songs!’ #Vaw


14 Jun 13

A group of women wanting to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday to tell her how unsafe they feel in Bengal was herded into prison vans and put in the Lalbazar lock-up for several hours.

Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha justified the move, saying the force could not have taken chances with the chief minister’s Z+ security. Some of those arrested for trying to meet Mamata at her Kalighat residence — they were released on bail around 3.30pm — called the police’s concern over Mamata’s security “misplaced”.

Sarmistha Dutta Gupta, who was in the group, tells Sreecheta Das of Metro what had taken her to Harish Chatterjee Street and how disappointed she felt when the police cracked down on a “peaceful rally”.

Being associated with the feminist movement for over 30 years and taking part in innumerable protests and processions, I used to think I was prepared for every kind of resistance. I was mistaken. I had no idea that participating in a peaceful rally, where the only thing that people do is sing protest songs, could land me in a police lock-up.

I reached the Hazra Road-Harish Chatterjee Street crossing around 8am to submit a memorandum to the chief minister regarding the gruesome gang rape and murder at Barasat and the general safety of women in our state. I joined the group because my conscience told me to. While our protest was against what happened in Barasat on June 7, the scope of our demands went beyond that.

Crimes against women have increased in the past one-and-a-half years. What I find more alarming is that more and more girl students are being targeted. Barasat has earned notoriety for different kinds of crimes against women — from men making lewd remarks and gestures at schoolgirls to Friday’s incident, that area has witnessed everything in the past year.

But the administration doesn’t seem to be perturbed. All that we see are a few arrests following every shocking incident. But there is hardly any follow-up, there is barely any effort to make women feel secure.

The administration doesn’t seem interested in reflecting on why such incidents are repeatedly taking place in a particular area. There are several schools, colleges and a university in Barasat, where many students are first-generation learners. We have interacted with students and teachers and found that there is no electricity in many places, let alone street lamps. Local toughs have been employed as watchmen in large plots of land meant for future commercial purposes.

Local girls say they are petrified of returning home after evening tuitions.

I am also deeply disturbed by the fact that people in the administration did not think it necessary to express their concern or anguish regarding any of the incidents.

Whenever we have sought an appointment with the chief minister, we have been turned down. On Monday, my friends from Maitree (an NGO) had gone to Writers’ Buildings to submit a memorandum to Mamata Banerjee. She did not meet them.

On Thursday morning, there were 30 of us, far fewer than the cops already stationed there when we arrived.

Six of our friends were arrested first, but I started walking towards Hazra with the rest. As we marched, we could see the police following us, some on foot and others on bikes. They blocked our way, pointed at the vans and told us to get inside.

When we said it was our right to stand wherever we wanted to, an officer replied: “Oto kotha jani na…cholun (we don’t know all that…get inside).”

They dragged us into the vans. They did not lathicharge us, but they did display brute force. My friend Swapna’s hand swelled up because of the manner in which she was pulled.

We still don’t know what the charges against us are and we can’t understand how singing songs could be construed as disruption of peace.

The trauma that we underwent would make some sense only when the administration realises that they have to come forward and do their bit to make Calcutta — and Bengal — safe for women.

AS TOLD TO SREECHETA DAS

 

Kolkata gangrape: Peaceful protesters rounded up, Mamata remains silent #Vaw


by  Jun 13, 2013

While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjeeherself maintains a dismissive silence on the issues of women’s safety plaguing the state and its capital Kolkata, she probably likes people of her state to follow her example and not fret too much about young girls getting raped and killed.

In what is indicative of a similar sentiment, the Kolkata Police today picked up and detained a group of peaceful protesters who had turned up in front of the chief minister’s south Kolkata home to seek assurance of action and also submit a memorandum of demands.

Anuradha Kapoor, who is associated with the civil rights group Maitree, spoke to Firstpostabout her ordeal. She, along with twelve of her colleagues, were picked up by the Kolkata Police from Kalighat and taken to the police headquarters at Lalbazar

Mamata Banerjee. Agencies.

Mamata Banerjee. Agencies.

According to Kapoor, she and her colleagues turned up in front of Mamata Banerjee‘s house in Kalighat, Kolkata seeking an appointment with her. They were stopped at the police barricade in front of the chief minister’s house at around 7.45 am today. They sought an appointment with the CM but were  refused one.

“The police told us that we can’t meet her since there are so many of us. So we said that the rest of us can wait outside while three or four people can go and meet her,” Kapoor said.

However, the police still refused to let them in and the protesters too refused to budge.

“We had placards with us and we were singing songs. The police asked us to make way for vehicles, we did that too. Suddenly, the officer-in-charge of the Kalighat Police station started hollering at the women police constables on duty and asked them to make us leave. In no time, two police vans came and cops started dragging us and herding us into the vans. They rounded some of us up. Then they followed the rest in our group who had already left the spot and were several hundred metres away. They were picked up too and brought to the Lalbazar station,” says Kapoor.

There were 40 activists, of which twelve were picked up and detained at the police headquarters. Till this report was filed, the activists were detained at the Lalbazar police station and were given no information about the charges against them.

“The state of women’s security in terrible. It has been like that for a long time now and we elected a new government for a reason. However, they are in complete denial of the situation and when you protest, this is what you get. We had sought an appointment with the CM at the Writers’ Buildings prior to this. She asked a deputy to inform us that the demands can be forwarded to the police chief and she didn’t meet us,” said Kapoor.

A 20-year-girl was gangraped and killed last Friday and a twelve-year-old suffered the same fate within four days of the other incident. Protests have broken out across the state following that.

 

NTUI condemns the arrest women activists protesting against rape and murder of students #Vaw


An impatient administration that tries to stifle the voice of protests, unmasks itself much more than critics can possibly do. This morning, members of Maitree, a Kolkata based network of women’s group, assembled peacefully outside Mamta Banerjees residence asking for an appointment to submit a letter of protest to the Chief Minister against the two recent cases of gang rape and murder. They had earlier tried to hand over the same at the Writers building on Monday but she had refused to meet the delegation. The grotesque rape,murder and violence against two students in Barasat and KrishnaganjNadia, in the last few days is an ampleindication of the appaling law and order sitution in the state and the administration’s dismal failure to ensure safety and security of women. The members of Maitree wanted to draw the Chief Minister’s personal attentionto this in a bid to ensure her personal intervention in this issue.

Instead of receiving their protest letter, the police arrested 13 women instantly. Anuradha Kapoor, Swapna, Kakali Bhattacharya, Anchita Ghatak, Shyamali Das, Ratnaboli Roy Sharmishtha Dutta Gupta, Shreya Sanghari, Madhura Chakraborty, Shreya Chakraborty, Sudeshna Basu, & Aditi Basu were whisked away to Lalbazar where they are currently detained at the Labazar central lock up. Abir Niyogy who was earlier taken away to Kalighat police station and has been currently transfered to Labazar central lock.

NTUI strongly condems this arrest by the police and demands an immediate and unconditional release of the members of Maitree. We strongly uphold the peoples’ right to dissent and protest. We also call upon theGovernment, judiciary and law enforcing agencies for an immediate arrest of culprits, a proper investigation and a fair and unbiased trial which would enable victims and their families in accessing justice and lead culprits towards due punishment; otherwise this wave of brutality against women would remain endless and unabated.

June 13, 2013

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