Saturday, April 24, 2010


West Bengal,

MASUM initiated National Project on Preventing Torture in India (NPPTI) undertaken by the People's Watch, Tamil Nadu, supported by the European Union and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung (FNSt). MASUM was responsible for implementing the project in West Bengal. Project was designed for 2006-2008. Objective was to ratify the UN CAT and document police torture with legal supports to victims.

799 Fact Findings were made during the period on police and BSF atrocities in six districts of West Bengal

Before Tribunal- 7 June 2008
Officers from the Detective Department, Kolkata Police visited MASUM's office before the tribunal, on 7 June 2008. The police questioned MASUM about the legality of conducting such a tribunal but refused to accept written replies.

9-10 June 2008
MASUM organised a People's Tribunal on Torture (PTT) at Moulali, Kolkata on 9 and 10 June, 2008. The tribunal is the part of the said national project against torture undertaken by the People's Watch, Tamil Nadu, supported by the European Union and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung (FNSt).

Nearly 1200 victims and their families were present in the public tribunal. As many as 82 victims of torture narrated their plight before the panel members consisting of illustrious persons of national repute. Justice Malay Sengupta, former Chief Justice Sikkim High Court and Dr. Mohini Giri, Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women, Ms. Pamela Philipose, Dr. Satyajit Ash, Mr. Ashok Chakroborty, Dr. Hiralal Konar, Prof. Dr. Tapas Bhattacharya, Mr. Asutosh Mukhopadhay, Dr. Sreemanti Choudhury, Prof. Ruchira Goswami and Prof Dr. A.K Gupta as panelist.

In the inaugural programme Ms. Sayeda Hamid, Ms. Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury and Justice DK Basu were present.

12 June 2008 – Police Raid at MASUM office
On 12 June 2008, police officers from the Detective Branch of West Bengal state police led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr. Prabir Chatterge marched into MASUM's office late in the evening claiming that they have obtained a search warrant from the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court to conduct a search in MASUM's office. Neither the ACP nor his subordinate officers were in uniform. None of the officers had any identification name tags. While the officers entered MASUM's premise some six to ten uniformed police constables armed with rifles stationed outside MASUM's office. The police had also brought police photographers taking pictures of the search.

When activists of MASUM requested for information why such a search was conducted and on what suspicion, the police officers refused to divulge any information. The police officers only informed that they had obtained a search warrant from the court for the search. On further questioning it was revealed that the officers did not have an omnibus order for search, but was permitted only to look into the activities of MASUM that linked them with the PWTN anti-torture campaign. MASUM cooperated with the police officers. However, throughout the search the police officers tried to harass MASUM by taking 'mug shots' of the MASUM staff as if they are some criminals apprehended after committing a crime.
The police seized some documents from the MASUM office and prepared a seizure list, as required under Indian law. The police have also seized some audiovisual equipment from MASUM which was also included in the list. It is also reported that some of the police officers were apologizing for the trouble caused to MASUM, but maintained that they have to abide by the 'orders from above' without questions. These off the cuff remarks by some police officers strengthen MASUM's suspicion about the actual purpose of the search.

Civil Society Reactions on this brutal attack:
12th June 2008- Dr. V. Mohini Giri sent a letter to Hon'ble Justice Shri S. Rajendra Babu, the then Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission showing her anguish and concern and other panelists showed their solidarity and concern

14th June 2008- Meeting attended by activists from various rights groups at Maria’s Day School, Howrah and showed their solidarity and strategize future course of action
16th June 2008- Press Meet at Press Club from 1-30 pm to 2.30 -pm & release of Interim Report of Peoples Tribunal on Torture
18th June 2008- public meeting and leaflet distribution from 3.30 onwards in front of Coffee House, College Street
26/06/2008 - People’s Convention against illegal police action upon Human Rights Defenders (MASUM) for holding People’s Tribunal on Torture was held at Students’ Hall, College Square, Kolkata, various civil society organizations participated

Framing in Legal case:
Queries on the legality of the tribunal continued at the instigation of Kolkata police and a police case was registered at the behest of the Detective Department at Taltolla Police Station (Taltala Police Station case no. 134/2008 dated 9.6.2008) under sections 170 (Personating a public officer); 179 (refusing to answer public servant authorized to question); 229 (Impersonation of a juror or assessor) and 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code 1860, against Mr. Kirity Roy and other activists of MASUM. It is noteworthy that Kolkata Police had also supported the activities of the tribunal by sending pilot cars for some of the members of the panel.
· National Project on Preventing Torture in India sent a complaint dated 12 June 2008 to the National Human Rights Commission against the registering of the case
· MASUM challenged the constitutional validity of the criminal case in the Calcutta High Court and requested the court to quash the police case. This case, Kirity Roy & others V. State of West Bengal is pending consideration of the High Court as Writ Petition No. 25022(W) of 2008.
· On 26 August, 2009 Justice Sanjib Banerjee heard the Writ Petition and dismissed the petition on the ground that police investigation is necessary to find out whether the petitioner (Kirity Roy) wished to organize a parallel judiciary in the country.
· MASUM filed an appeal (MAT 1219/2009) along with a Stay Application (C.A.N. 10511/2009) against the order in the Division Bench led by Chief Justice Mohit Ranjan Shah and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh.
· On 10 March 2010, the case was fixed for hearing before the Division Bench as Item number 2. Mr. Sadhan Roy Chowdhury, advocate pleaded on behalf of the petitioner (Kirity Roy). He was assisted by Mr. Somnath Roy Chowdhury, and Mr. Debashish Banerjee, practicing advocates of the High Court, Calcutta. The Respondent/State also presented its case in the court. After an extensive hearing the Division Bench passed an order. The gist of the order is given below:-
“That the above application for stay in the above appeal was taken up on 10/03/2010 by the Hon’ble Division Bench comprised of the Hon’ble Chief Justice sitting with the Hon’ble Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose.

After hearing the Learned Advocates at length. Their Lordships have been pleased to pass an order staying operation of the judgment and order under appeal till the disposal of the appeal. Their Lordships have further been pleased to pass necessary orders for expeditious disposal of the Criminal Case initiated against the Appellant, initiation of which is the subject matter of the writ Petition, and directing the State Respondents to file a report in this regard within a month.” Their Lordships were further been pleased to pass an order fixing the final hearing of the Appeal on 08/04/2010”.

· 21st April 2010 has been fixed for the next hearing before the Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court regarding the appeal (MAT 1219/2009) along with the Stay Application (C.A.N. 10511/2009)

4th April 2010 (Sunday)
Mr. Abhijit Datta, Advocate & Assistant Secretary of MASUM was summoned at Lalbazar with a notice and Mr. S. Dhar, Investigating Officer of the case examined him and recorded his statement in accordance to section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code of India as a witness, but astonishingly we find his name as an absconding accused in charge sheet.

7th April 2010
Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) has been arrested from his residence at Serampore, Hooghly in connection with Taltala Police Station, case number 134/2008 dated 9 June 2008 and GR number 1487/2008 under Sections 120B; 170 and 229 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by the Anti-Terrorist Cell, Kolkata Police. The police have registered the case against eight persons including Mr. Roy.
The Police continued its subtle harassment by withholding to submit the documents before the Magistrate (Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bankshall Court, Kolkata) for a long time so that the hearing of the bail petition could be delayed. Despite the obstructions, Mr. Roy’s lawyers succeeded in getting his bail. Appallingly, Mr. Roy was not physically produced before the concerned magistrate; this is again a violation of law.

The charge-sheet was submitted by the police on 07 April 2010 in connection with the abovementioned criminal case against Mr. Kirity Roy and other seven persons as accused namely (1) Mr. Abhijit Dutta, Advocate, Assistant Secretary, MASUM, (2) Mr. Henri Tiphagne, Advocate, Executive Director of Peoples Watch, (3) Mr. Subhasis Dutta, Advocate, MASUM, (4) Mr. Subhrangsu Bhaduri, Executive Committee Member, MASUM, (5) Ms. Sushmita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Committee Member, MASUM, (6) Ms. Tanusree Chakraborty, Activist, MASUM, and (7) Ms. Aditi Kar, Activist of MASUM & Swayam. It is to be mentioned that those persons except Mr. Kirity Roy were not named in the FIR.

While in the charge sheet sections 120B (Criminal Conspiracy)/170 (Personating a public servant)/229 (Personation of a juror), other charges as 467 (Forgery of a valuable security …. or to receive a money)/468 (Forgery for the purpose of cheating)/420 (cheating)/ 471/ 201 of Indian Penal Code were slapped against Mr. Kirity Roy and Mr. Henri Tiphenge; the rest of the accused persons have been charge sheeted with all the penal sections mentioned, except section 201 of the Indian Penal Code.

It is also relevant to mention that the FIR was registered under sections 120B/170/229 of Indian Penal Code but later the police added the other five penal provisions i.e. Sections 467/468/420/201/471 of Indian Penal Code in the charge-sheet. The Magistrate (CMM, Bankshall, Kolkata) did not take cognizance of the charge sheet while passing order of granting ad interim bail in favour of Mr. Kirity Roy till 21st of April 2010. The Magistrate also took in its judicial observation that the addition of the sections was made without any permission and prayer of the court not showing what new materials are appearing during the time of investigation. The case has been transferred to the court of 7th Metropolitan Magistrate.

On 19th of April 2010, six named accused except Mr. Henri Tiphagne appeared before the said court of 7th Metropolitan Magistrate in person for seeking bail and his court granted ad interim bail to all the accused till 23 July 2010.

21st of April 2010 has been fixed for next hearing for the said case vide number 134/2008 dated 9 June 2008 and GR number 1487/2008

Calcutta High Court Order dated 21st April:
The Division Bench of Calcutta High Court comprising of Chief Justice Mr. Mohit Lal Shah and Justice Mr. SP Talukdar ordered regarding 8th April as the date was fixed for submission of report by the State. State sought adjournment for a week. Hence the matter has been fixed on 28th April for further hearing and for submission of report. We are waiting for the copy of the order.

Bankshall Court:
In connection with Taltola Police Station Case no. 134/2008 dated 9.6.2008(G.R. no.1487/2008) pending before the 7th Metropolitan Magistrate, Bankshall, Kolkata, Mr. Kirity Roy appeared before the court today in compliance of the court’s order dated 7.4.2010. Today, the interim bail was extended to him up to 23. July 2010

· Civil Society reaction on and after Kirity Roy’s arrest and subsequent criminal charges against HR activists of MASUM
7- 19 April 2010

Various civil society organisations and rights groups met at Theosophical Society Hall to discuss about the ongoing harassments and throttling of democratic voices regarding arranging the Peoples’ Tribunal on Torture and subsequent criminal case against MASUM. The meeting was primarily focussed on discussing the future course of action by civil society organisations in response to police and state atrocity on MASUM for holding a People’s Tribunal on 9th and 10th June 2008 at Kolkata. The participants discussed the propriety to holding peoples tribunal.

These were the resolutions taken jointly by nearly 35 representatives of various organisations

A detailed letter to be written to ABP stating the facts and countering false charges.
A convention is planned to take place on 25th June 2010 on Legality and justification of ‘Peoples’ Tribunal’
A draft write-up for the intended convention is to be prepared

The convention should discuss following subjects:
Legitimacy of organizing People’s Tribunal, Discussing the validity, justifiability and righteousness of organising People’s Tribunal according to Indian Constitution, Civil society organizations and individuals after knowing the constant attempts to harass the Human Rights Defenders and activists of MASUM by bringing frivolous charges on behest of state of West Bengal and instrumented by Kolkata police; shown their angst and anguish with further upliftment and encouragement for civil society initiations to challenge the said police actions with a sense of Impunity and further judicial non deliverances.

International and national organizations and individuals who shown their concerns are:-

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (USA), Frontline Defenders (Ireland), Forum Asia (Thailand), The Observatory (Geneva), Asian Center for Human Rights (Delhi), Peoples Watch (Tamil Nadu), Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, Human Rights Law Network, SICHREM (Karnataka) International Bridges to Justice (Geneva), Nagarik Mancha, Bandi Mukti Committee, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Mancha, Sramajibi Hospital, Indo- Japan Steel Employees Union, DISHA, Ekhon Bisangad,

Arundhuti Roy – writer, Gautam Navlakkha- Editor- EPW, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Sujato Bhadra- APDR, Bibhash Chakraborty- Theatre Personality, Meher Engineer- Scientist, Sumit Choudhury- Filmmaker, Prof. Tarun Sanyal- Rights Activist, Murad Hussain- NAPM, Chotan Das- Bandi Mukti Committee, Kunal Deb, Raghab Bandopadhay- writer, Prashanta Chattopadhay- writer, Kanchan Kumar- AILRC, Krishna Bandopadhay- Lalgarh Mancha, Sandip Bandopadhaya- Writer, Kalyan Rudra- environmental expert, Bolan Gangopadhay- columnist, Dr. Hira Lal Konar- Health Service Association, Guruprasad Kar- Indian Statistical Institute, Carol Geeta- Samikhsha; Rajsthan, Tapan Basu- SAFHR, Debal Deb- CIS, Babloo Loitongbam – Manipur, Dr. Walter Fernanendez- NESRC, Philip Setunga- Hong Kong, Soo A Kim- South Korea, Goutam Sen- Majdoor Mukti, Shibani Choudhury- HLRN, Dipankar Chakraborty- Aneek, Alexandra Kossin – OMCT, Geneva, Colin Gonsalves - HRLN
And many other civil, political and human rights activists


Express your concern and solidarity against the malafide intention of Kolkata Police and circumstances under which a criminal case is registered against eight human rights activists, including Mr. Kirity Roy.

Report by:
Kirity Roy
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
National Convenor
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI)

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