Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma, Human Rights Defender, again under attack

West Bengal, India

Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma, son of late Mr. Gopal Chandra Sharma, Village – Dayarampur, Police Station – Jalangi, District – Murshidabad, West Bengal, India has been an active defender in different parts of Murshidabad district for last six years. There had been multiple attempts by police in connivance with others to frame him in false accusations. The following is the recent addition to series of harassment on him.

It is in 2007 that one Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar, son of Late Rajani Kanto Mazumdar (Address :- 7/1880 Gayeshpur, Police Station – Kalyani, District – Nadia, West Bengal), claimed to be an industrialist under Central Commercial Industry of India along with his deputed District Manager Mr. Prashanta Goswami, son of Late Pran Krishna Goswami approached one of relative of Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma; Mr. Sunil Sharma, son of Late Gour Chandra Sharma, a retired army personnel of village – Kantabari, police station – Jalangi, with an offer to depute Sunil Sharma as Block Manager of their project that would in turn generate income to lots of unemployed youth of that area. As the area falls under prey of Padma erosion every other year, economic condition of the village is awful. At this juncture, the abovementioned offer appeared to be a very substantial way out. Though, Mr. Sunil Sharma was initially reluctant to take up the project, his philanthropic attitude towards the unemployed fellow-villagers motivated him to do otherwise. In addition to Mr. Jahar Lal’s flaunting economic status, lots of governmental documents that he had was enough to aspire the poor villagers.

Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar made it mandatory to deposit five lakh rupees (5,00,000 INR) by Mr. Sunil Sharma as security deposit before starting the job, which he adhered to with fare contribution from those interested unemployed youths. However, within few days as some difficulties cropped up, Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar and other staffs of Central Commercial Industry were found nowhere. On enquiring it was established that the complete gang earned a huge amount by this sort of forgery. At this juncture Mr. Sunil Sharma approached Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma; the HRD to help him out of this situation.

Mr. Sunil Sharma lodged a complaint against Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar and others at Jalangi police station on 23 January 2009. Subsequently a case was initiated against them (case no. 26/09) under sections 468/471/409/420/311 of Indian Penal Code. Incidentally, once his aide, Mr. Prashanta Goswami, also being cheated by Mr. Jahar Lal filed a complaint against him to the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court of Behrampur, Murshidabad district, West Bengal. After being bailed out of those cases, vengeful Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar filed a false criminal case at Kalyani police station against Mr. Sunil Sharma and also against Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma in order to prevent him from providing assistance to Mr. Sunil (case no. 0665 dated 09 December 2009, under sections 420/406/307/311 of Indian Penal Code) and other poor villagers cheated with Jahar’s fraudulent act.

It is to be mentioned that Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar filed a complaint against Mr. Sunil Sharma and Mr. Prashanta Goswami to Assistant Chief Judicial Magistrate of Kalyani, District – Nadia, West Bengal (case no. 438c/08), which was found false and dismissed after thorough investigation carried out by Mr. Pintu Saha, Sub-Inspector of Kalyani police station. Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma came to know from some reliable source that a new complaint has been filed by Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar (case no. 0665/09) to falsely implicate him.

While Mr. Jahar Lal Mazumdar’s act of cheating is a blow to poor villagers of Kantabari village, his attempt to falsely implicate Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma as well comes as his trick to restrict him from his concerns for human rights activity in general and police torture in specific. It is also to be noted that, though Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma was nowhere involved in the abovementioned project, inclusion of his name in Mr. Jahar Lal’s complaint along with M/s Sunil Sharma and Prashanta Goswami is a clear tactic to falsely intimidate him so as to keep him out of his act of forgery and vengeance.

The similar attempt against Mr. Gopen Sharma have been initiated time and again by connivance with police and other law enforcing agencies. It began in February 2005 when a case was filed against him at Jalangi Police Station (Case no. 25/2005) under sections 498A /307/34 of Indian Penal Code. He was acquitted from the case by the Sessions court on 6th September 2007. The next attempt to harass him was another case filed at Raninagar Police Station (case no. 21/2007 dated 8/2/2007) under sections 468/471/420 of the Indian Penal Code. The police already filed charge sheet against him in the case and the same is pending for trial in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lalbagh. Then again in August 2007 another case was registered against him at Jalangi Police Station (case no. 155/2007 dated 13/8/2007), under section 420 of Indian Penal Code.

It is important to note that on 11.4.2006, one complaint was lodged to West Bengal Human Rights Commission in presence of our organization and the Commission passed a specific order on 12.4.2005 asking the District Magistrate of Murshidabad district to enquire and to report within four weeks, but till date no such report was sent by the DM and the West Bengal Human Rights Commission also took no further step.

Many international human rights body also took up the cases of Mr. Gopen Sharma, like OMCT, AHRC, FIDH, Frontline Defenders and many other organisations.

Hence, I am requesting NHRC to take appropriate action in the matter immediately ensuring the protection of human rights defender as mentioned in international declaration on human rights defender. I demand immediate withdrawal of the said criminal case against Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma. A stern action should be taken against the person tried to implicate Mr. Sharma.

Report By:
Kirity Roy

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