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Tuesday 10 April 2012

Nonadanga eviction and police wrath

9th April 2012
The Chairman
West Bengal Human Rights Commission
Bhabani Bhaban
Respected Sir
The outlandish event of forced evictions and state brutality upon the protesting voices is became a harsh reality for the state. Many civil society groups, political formations and individuals showed their resentments over the issue during the earlier regime but in most inexcusable way the present political dispensation ruling the state has not rectified their stances and replicating the wrongdoings of their predecessor.
I failed to resist myself from writing the preview before my actual complain as our state has experienced a sharp reaction over these two issues a year back.
Nonadanga was a hamlet of residents from diverse social identities but with unique similarity of destitution and poverty. The hamlet was resided by nearly 300 households who are living in penury and abject poverty, contrary to remarks made by the government functionaries as the residents are well off. It was not any unique settlement rather a replica of such urban settlements where people are living under hardships and scarce amenities. The place was inhabited by Aila victims from Sundarban as well as rural displaced from Nandigram of East Midnapur. The populace is settled at the place over the time and with a distinction of old and new settlers.
On 30th of March 2012 at about 10 am, personnel from Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) and police personnel from Tiljala Police Station and Police Head Quarter- Lalbazar with 3 bulldozers, prison vans apart from regular vehicles of police and 3 fire engines, came to the locality. The huge posse of police was armed with firearms and lathis. The KMDA has not served any notice before their eviction drive though they made audio announcement on 28th March at 4.00 pm and asked the residents to vacate the place within 12 hours. The residents tried their best to argue against the proposed eviction but not heeded and all the shanties were razed and gutted in ground making hundreds homeless to face scorching sun and blinding rain and storms. Pregnant women, lactating mothers with their child, aged and school going children with same fate. From the day one, evicted got friends from different civil society groups who are protesting the mindless banishment of poor from their settlements. This make government more irresponsive towards their single demand for resettlement and on 4th April 2012, the police came down heavily upon the protestors, Kolkata Police along with a gang of ruffians (supposedly the ruling party cadres who were without police uniforms) viciously lathi-charged on the dispossessed slum-dwellers while they organized a protest march and demanding for resettlement. A huge police force attacked the protesters and started beating everyone ruthlessly, including women and infants, without any warning. All the belongings, i.e. clothes, stoves, utensils, terpoline, bamboos transistors, wrist watch, voter ID cards, ration cards etc. were looted and taken by the KMDA men with the help of police party. No seizure list was prepared. Ms. Rita Patra; a pregnant woman, wife of Mr. Surajit Patra came from-village-Bonshree Gouri, Debipur, Nandigram, District-Purbo Medinipur was seriously injured in the lathi-charge. Thereafter, she was admitted to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, where doctors asked her to withdraw her complaint. Another injured was Ms. Rinki Das; aged about 21 years, wife of Mr. Rabi Shankar Das, her complaint has not been registered by the police though attending doctor; Dr. Subhrajit Roy documented details of physical assault on her by the police. We have documented statements of the victims and eye-witnesses.
On 8th April 2011, the Kolkata Police arrested 69 activists of "Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee" (Anti-eviction Committee) of Nonadanga (a common platform of different civil society organizations), including women and kids when they were peacefully continuing a mass demonstration programme at Ruby Hospital crossing of EM Bypass protesting against forcible eviction of slum dwellers and seeking their proper rehabilitation. A day long Sit-in Demonstration to protest against Nonadanga slum demolition and forcible eviction, started at Ruby junctionat 10 am, shortly before noon, a large police force, led by Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police Mr. Basab Dasgupta, came to the spot and asked to withdraw the sit in, the protestors denied to lift the sit in. But the police broke their peaceful demonstration alleging it as 'illegal' despite police were informed beforehand. 69 protesters including evicted residents of the slum; even a nine-year-old Monika Kumari Shaw, daughter of Mr. Dilip Shaw, was arrested. The child was in the lockup with her mother till 9pm with all other arrested agitators violating Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act. Arresting police also deliberately did not issue Memo of Arrest for anybody at the time of arrest. All of the arrested being detained and taken to Crntral lock-Up at Lalbazar. Cases under section 151 are being slapped on the detainees. Later on, at night all captives have been released except 7 civil society activists. The activists still in custody are Ms. Deblina Chakraborty, Ms. Debjani Ghosh, Mr. Abhijnan Sarkar, Mr. Samik Chakraborty, Mr. Partho Sarathi Ray, Mr. Siddhartha Gupta and Mr. Manas Chatterjee. They have falsely been charged with a number of non-bailable criminal charges fabricated by the police in connection with Tiljala police station case no. 103 of 2012 dated 4th April 2012. These seven persons, all are human rights defenders, have been arrested under Sections 143,149,332,341,342 353 of Indian Penal Code. According to police higher ups the activists were involved with provoking people in wrongful activity, assembled illegally, and wrongfully restrained and resisted policemen. All the allegations charged, as per police record, were made for their association with 4th March demonstration with the evictees. On 4th April 2012, Prof. (Dr.) Partho Sarothi Roy, one of the arrested was on his duty at Nadia district.
In this context I demand:-
  1. Immediate resettlement and rehabilitation measures must be taken for the evictees of Nonadanga according to R&R policy of Government of India.
  2. As the said eviction was against all norms of international and domestic parlance, the government, police, KMDA drive should be condemned.
  3. The erring officials of the government, police and KMDA must be booked according to law.
  4. Police officials violated the set procedure of arrest and detention must be booked according to law.
  5. The raiding party must be booked for looting and arsoning.
  6. The complaint made by Ms. Rita Patra must be investigated by your Commission
  7. The victims must be protected from police wrath
  8. All the human rights defenders be protected.
  9. Action must be taken against the delinquent police personnel including Mr. Basab Dasgupta IPS.
Thanking you
(Kirity Roy)
Secretary, MASUM
National Convenor, PACTI

Kirity Roy
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax - +91-33-26220843
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