The Honourable Justice KG Balakrishnan
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi – 110 001
7th March, 2012
Dear Justice Balakrishnan,
Subject: Please ensure safety of Advoate Rekha Parganiha in police custody in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh
We, the members of WSS, a national platform of women’s groups, are alarmed at the news of another woman activist, Advocate Rekha Parganiha, arrested in Chhattisgarh in relation to suspected Maoist links. A newspaper story (attached) indicates that Advocate Parganiha was picked up from her house in Bhilai on Sunday (March 4th) and was remanded into police custody on March 5th for 5 days, until March 10th.
We are deeply concerned at the long duration of police remand, especially in the wake of recent reports of custodial sexual violence perpetrated by Chhattigarh police, and considering that the only evidence that exists against the accused so far consists of writings of Bertolt Brecht, Bhagat Singh, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
We would like to remind you that Chhattisgarh police has a track record of subjecting women under trials, especially those accused of political offences, to brutal torture. Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher, was subjected to extreme sexual violence by the Chhattisgarh police while she was in their custody in October 2011. As her letters later revealed, she was verbally abused, stripped naked, electric shocks were applied to her and stones, pebbles, batons were inserted into her vagina and rectum. This was also corroborated by an independent medical examination conducted by a Government Hospital in Kolkata under the directions of the Honourable Supreme Court. In her letters, Soni Sori reveals that many women prisoners in Chhattisgarh jail have been subjected to similar torture and brutalization.
Please recall that we had urged you to intervene in Soni Sori’s matter in order to ensure that the perpetrators of such violence are punished, and that Soni Sori receives the medical treatment that she so urgently needs. However, the NHRC refused to intervene maintaining that the fact that Soni Sori’s matter is sub-judice precludes any intervention by the Commission.
However, in the case of Advocate Rekha Parganiha, where similar apprehensions of torture exist, the limitations of the matter being sub-judice do not arise. Hence, we request the NHRC to take appropriate and immediate steps to ensure the safety of Advocate Parganiha during police custody.
We also urge you to look into the growing phenomenon of arresting women activists in Chhattisgarh under serious criminal charges on the basis of flimsy evidence, such as the “incriminating documents” in this case – which consist of literature by Bertolt Brecht, Bhagat Singh, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which is not only widely available publicly, but is included in the canons of great world philosophy and literature. Such infringements of the constitutionally guaranteed rights to life and liberty, and of freedom of thought and expression are unacceptable.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)
Enc: Story on Advocate Rekha Parganiya’s arrest that appears in Indian Express, 06.03.2012
Arrested ‘Naxal’ an award-winning technician
Chandralata Parganiha clutched the Vishwakarma Award for Best Technician her son Deepak had won in 2008 while working at the Bhilai Steel Plant. Deepak had disappeared soon after. She recently found that he was arrested in Kolkata and the police had termed him the “urban face of Maoists”.
“I saw him last in February 2009. I don’t know what happened to him thereafter. Prior to that he was not involved in such (Naxal) things. It’s shocking,” Chandralata said.
After his marriage with Rekha, an advocate, in 2002, Deepak had gradually distanced from his family. “They lived separately. I met him last in 2008,” said his sister Jyoti.
Rekha was arrested from her home in Bhilai on Sunday. “Several incriminating documents were recovered from her home,” said Durg IG R K Vij. The Indian Express managed to see these “incriminating documents”, which included postcards of poems and quotes by Bertolt Brecht, Bhagat Singh, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.
A newspaper quoted Bhilai Thana incharge V D Nand as saying that “no material linked with Naxals was recovered from Rekha’s home”. But Nand denied it. Rekha was produced before the court on Monday and is in police custody till March 10.
“We never saw Deepak visiting her,” said her landlord Tamendra Yadav. “We don’t know about her husband, but she is innocent. He left her three years ago,” said one of her colleagues.
The Chhattisgarh Police said Deepak provided the Maoists with technical inputs for making bombs. Vij said Deepak had been on their radar for long. In 2009, two arrested Maoists, Bholabag and Sunita, had named him for giving them shelter. Deepak was held with five others, including Sadanala Ramakrishna (62), secretary of the central technical committee of Maoists, from Kolkata last week. They had expertise in making bombs, police said.
In his confession before a joint team of Bengal and Chhattisgarh police, Deepak reportedly said he joined CPI(Maoists) in 2004. Following this, the police raided two Raipur transporters on Sunday and seized metal, nut-bolts, rods, pipes in 70 boxes. No explosive was recovered. “The consignment was sent from Maoists in Kolkata to Chhattisgarh and could be used for making bombs,” said ADG (Naxal) Ramnivas.
As investigations are on, everyone is silent about Deepak and Rekha’s seven-year-old daughter. As per Yadav, Rekha’s brother came to lock the house and probably took the girl with him. Rekha’s brother denied it. The police have no clue, nor does Chandralata.
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