West Bengal, India
The abduction of Officer in Charge of Sankarail police station of West Midnapur district by ‘Maoist’ insurgents and killing two officers of the same police station ended with a positive note while the leader of the said insurgent group, Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenjee directed to let him free after a long doldrums.
We, MASUM, are welcoming the release of Mr. Atindra Nath Dutta, Officer in Charge of Sankarail PS from Maoist custody and some elderly women from judicial custody in connection with Lalgarh Police Station Case number 137/09 dated 03.09.2009 with gest.
Maoists were demanding before the state government to free the women arrested by the police from Lalgarh, Kantapahari and adjoining areas having alleged involvement of these women with the insurgents. It was also alleged by various civil bodies including, MASUM, that the Home Department of West Bengal were busy in arresting several innocent persons from those areas in the name of combating insurgency. The demand was made by the Maoists for release of the women who crossed their age of 40 and numbering more than 30.
The present act of the state government by freeing several women on a sudden political decision, who were arrested and in judicial custody in connection with Lalgarh Police Station Case number 137/09 dated 03.09.2009, under sections 147/ 148/ 149/ 353/ 186/ 307/ 121/ 121A/ 122/ 123/ 124A and 120B of Indian Penal Code and 25 & 27 of Arms Act, the women got bail from Sessions Court, Midnapur were :--
1. Pratima Patra
2. Nilima Hansda
3. Sudharani Baske
4. Bidhu Murmu
5. Sukul Murmu
6. Fulmoni Soren
7. Aina Hansda
8. Podamani Baske
9. Fulmani Murmu
10. Suni Mandi
11. Kishorimoni Hansda
12. Sunita Baske
13. Sefali Soren
14. Bahamoni Soren
15. Ramdulal Mandi
The District & Session Judge of West Midnapur Court granted bail to abovementioned accused persons today; in this course the Public Prosecutor appearing on behalf of the state, did not object the prayer for their bail. It proves that today the prosecution does not have any substantial materials against those persons, even after one month and 19 days!!!
This event unfolded few stark realities related with the judicial processes along with the independence of that pillar of the Indian democracy.
One, how these arrested persons were kept in custody for so many days under serious sedition charges when there is no evidence against them? What compelled judiciary to not enlarge them on bail earlier?
Two, if these persons are released as result of understanding between the West Bengal government and Maoists with bargaining terms for release of the police officer; in that case also, can the judiciary take any position only acting as ‘Rubber Stamp’ for the Home Department and police to release or not to release any person in custody?
Whatever be the position at present, it is clear that in dealing with cases relating to Maoists, the Judiciary has been at the beck and call of Home Department and police, it has failed miserably to play its independent and neutral role by dispensing the justice to the people.
It is true that innocent people are kept in custody for long on suspicion of being Maoists, committing grave offences and false implication in grave criminal charges is proved beyond doubt. The judiciary has become a mute spectator and played at the hand of the police.
Who will be accountable to the misuse of power perpetrated by the higher echelon of police? Will they face any criminal trial for their misdeeds?