Sans Comments – Oh Kolkata Oh Bengal

Bullied by cops, man kills self
9 Jun 2008, 0358 hrs IST,TNN
KOLKATA: At 2.45 am, when the rest of the city was fast asleep, a group of policemen came knocking on the door of Samar Kumar Mukherjee at 14-Kamarpara Row with a warrant over a loan-related dispute with a private bank. His family pleaded that Mukherjee was not keeping well and offered to take him to the police station in the morning.

Less than five hours later, Mukherjee hanged himself.

His anguished family is now determined to take the policemen and the bank’s recovery agent to court. They allege that police acted in connivance with the agents.

"Do I have to go the police station? The entire neighbourhood now knows police have come to take me," Mukherjee had told Swati, his daughter-in-law, minutes before ending his life.

"He was afraid he would be drag-ged to the police station and humiliated in public," said widow Sandhya.

The incident comes just 72 hours after trader Satya Narayan Dutta ended his life after being hounded by a financial agency’s recovery agents.

"Policemen banged on our doors and told us to bring him (Mukherjee) outside. We told them that he could barely walk, but they went on showering abuses on us," said Mukherjee’s son Biswanath.

Rights activists and lawyers say police overstepped their jurisdiction. Police can only raid the house of a ‘most wanted’ criminal at odd hours but not in a case of bounced cheques. This is a clear case of abetment to suicide," said rights activist Sujato Bhadra. Consumer lawyer Prabir Basu said: "This person is not going to abscond, so why go to his house with a warrant in the dead end of night? Most of the banks are violating RBI guidelines."

South 24-Parganas SP Praveen Kumar said police had acted on the warrant. When asked about the time of the raid, he said he wasn’t aware of that. An ICICI Bank official said they were "going to look into the matter".


Rizwanur Rehman committed suicide, says CBI

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Posted online: Thursday , February 28, 2008 at 12:56:14
Updated: Thursday , February 28, 2008 at 01:16:12

Kolkata, February 28: The much-awaited CBI report on the mysterious death of computer graphics teacher Rizwanur Rehman said that he had committed suicide and recommended action against senior police officers, including the then Kolkata police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee in that connection.

The main points of the report was made public by Justice Dipankar Dutta of Calcutta High Court, which had ordered the Central agency to investigate the cause of the death of the computer teacher who had married Priyanka Todi, daughter of an industrialist and thus put to rest the controversy as to whether it was a murder or a suicide.

The report recommended departmental action against the former police commissioner, who is at present the ADG (Telecom) with the West Bengal police, while asking for major disciplinary action against the then DCP (headquarter) Gyanwant Singh and some officers of Karaya police station.

The CBI also sought permission to file chargesheet against the then Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department) Ajoy Kumar and two officers of his department alongwith Priyanka’s father Ashok Todi, uncle Pradip and maternal uncle Anil Saraogi and Mohiuddin alias Pappu for abetment to suicide, criminal intimidation and conspiracy.

Rizwanur, whose body was found beside railway tracks a month after his marriage to Priyanka, had allegedly been intimidated by senior police officers of Kolkata police at its Lalbazar headquarters a few days before his death at the behest of her relatives.

The death of the youth from a modest background following his marriage to the daughter of a rich industrialist had snowballed into a public outcry and resulted in the shunting out of the three IPS officers — Prasun Mukherjee, Gyanwant Singh and Ajoy Kumar.


Cops asked Taslima to leave city
22 Nov 2007, 0232 hrs IST,Debashis Konar,TNN


Police had asked Taslima Nasreen to leave Kolkata last week following an intelligence report. But the writer in exile had turned down the plea. Taslima, apparently, was irked by the advice and made it clear that she wanted to stay on in Kolkata.

The city was rocked by a violent agitation demanding her expulsion on Wednesday. Last week, Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind leader Siddiqullah Choudhury and his supporters had burnt her effigy.

The police officers had even suggested that she should leave Kolkata for a while and return after the agitations die down. But the writer reportedly refused to budge as she had considered Kolkata to be a safe haven.

Taslima has not moved out of her house since August when she was attacked in Hyderabad. The author had even told her close friends that she is almost leading a life under house arrest, as securitymen do not allow her to move freely considering the threat to her life. "We cannot allow her to move around as that might lead to a security problem," said an official. The writer even failed to attend a party hosted by The Times of India at a city hotel in October as she was not allowed to step out of her home.

Taslima has a visa to stay in India till February 17, 2008. She holds UN refugee status and no country can refuse shelter to her under normal circumstances. Her security had been tightened considerably after the Hyderabad incident. Intelligence officials, however, confirmed that no additional force was deployed after last week’s agitations. Instead, she was asked to leave the city.

According to sources, the writer came to know about the clashes from television and remained confined within her security ring as usual. As the news spread, SMSes and emails from friends started pouring in. But she decided to remain silent on the issue.

The only thing that some home department officials are pondering over was whether the Centre is going to extend her visa further. But that would be clear only in the middle of February. Senior home department officials feel that if the agitation continues, the state government might recommend a cancellation of her visa. The Centre can also ask her to leave Kolkata and stay in some other city, an official said.

The home department officials have reports that there could be more agitations against the author on Friday.

Meanwhile, sensing the tension among a section of the Muslims over Taslima’s stay in Kolkata, CPM state secretary Biman Bose held that the writer should leave the town on her own. "The CM offered her refuge at the request of two central ministers. Now that some people don’t want her to stay here, she should leave the state," Bose said.



Police, CPM Thugs go Berserk in West Bengal

Cops at Nandigram


In a highly condemnable and apparently vicious act of state brutality, West Bengal police opened fire on protesters in Nandigram, in the Medinipur District of West Bengal on March 14,2008, killing at least fifteen people and injuring many more.

An excerpt from the National Alliance of People’s Movements statement:

As per the latest information, thousands of Police on entering the area, this morning, started firing, and 20 at least are found killed while hundreds are wounded lying on the street. Police are forcibly taking away the dead bodies. Women are at the forefront and have faced the attack the most. Children and men along with women are on the streets coming out of homes and villages to stop the brutal State and Party forces who are trying to take the territory under siege for SEZ with MNCs. We are also informed that media persons were stopped from witnessing the brutal atrocities while two media persons from TARA News are said to be missing.

This is obviously a planed action since even last month when 4 meetings attended by over 20000 people was held, there was news that the CPM would launch its attack soon after the school exams were over (

Nandigram has been the site of intense protests for the past two months by Indian farmers and villagers who oppose the state government’s proposed land acquisition in the area for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the latest fad in global capitalism for developing countries (ironic that the flare-up around the SEZ issue has centered around West Bengal, which is governed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)-led Left Front government). The basic principle: take vast amounts of land from farmers, administer it such that your usual national laws (such as those governing labour rights) don’t apply, invite in global capital to develop the land, provide cheap labour, and say you’re doing it all for the sake of development and employment.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee insisted the police acted as they needed in defense.

Expressing shock at the death of 14 people in the firing, the Chief Minister said if the people of Nandigram were against a chemical hub, it would not come up there.

In that circumstance, the SEZ and the chemical hub would be set up in some other place and no land acquisition notice would be made in Nandigram, he added (Indian Express).

He misses the whole point as he often does on these matters. He will very likely find such opposition anywhere he goes in his state when it comes to trying to set up a special economic zone. Nandigram isn’t the first place where the state government has come up against stiff opposition to SEZs.

Singur, in West Bengal’s Hooghly District, is the site of a proposed SEZ for Tata Motors. The opposition parties in West Bengal as well as several Left parties have opposed the site, claiming that the government is forcibly taking land from farmers.

But the brutality wasn’t restricted to the police:

Villagers have been looking for some people who came in on 14 March disguised as policemen to rape and murder women. They chanced upon Sahadev Pramanick (30), who had raped at least two women. The CPI-M activist from Gangra, Sonachura, left the village after the first spell of violence in January and sought refuge in a party camp at Khejuri. Last evening, whilst trying to sneak into Sonachura along with four accomplices, he found himself captured. Pramanick admitted to two rapes, including that of a 13-year-old girl. “At least 17 girls were raped inside a deserted house near Bhangabera on 14 March when police opened fire near a bridge. The victims were dragged into the house of Shankar Samanta by CPI-M cadres,” Pramanick said. Samanta had been burnt alive by villagers on 7 January and his dwelling since then lay vacant.

CBI officials have visited it, collecting pieces of torn cloth, bangles and undergarments. It was also stained with blood. Villagers had heard women forced into the house cry out in agony but there were CPI-M goons guarding it. Haldia’s sub-divisional police officer, Mr Swapan Saha, said if the CBI wanted Pramanick for interrogation, he would be handed over to it (The Statesman).

The Times of India interviewed three police officers who described how the police approach was planned, how they were greeted when they got to Nandigram, and how CPM thugs “helped”:

“Four heads had got together and schemed Operation Nandigram. They had outlined how the police would begin dispersing the crowd first and how the hired criminals would take over after that,” claimed one of the three cops TOI spoke to.

The “core team” comprised a CPM MP, a zilla parishad leader and two senior [Indian Police Service (IPS)] officials. “The IPS officers took their orders from the two CPM leaders. We learnt about the gameplan later, but we hadn’t the slightest clue about it on the morning of March 14,” claimed another policeman. The 2,000-odd heavily-armed policemen who had assembled from forces like the State Armed Police, Eastern Frontier Rifles, India Reserve Battalion from South Bengal, North Bengal and Western zones were, in fact, sketchily briefed (for barely 30 minutes) about Operation Nandigram. “Very casually we were told to move into Adhikaripara-Tekhali and Bhangaberia.

“As soon the crowd spotted us, missiles started flying from all directions. Stones were pelted from all sides and bombs hurled from treetops,” said another policeman. “We retreated for a while and then tried to control the crowd with rubber bullets and teargas. Nothing worked, so we started firing,” said the cop.”As men, women and children ran for their lives, they were grabbed by CPM’s hired thugs, a few kilometres from the firing spot. Some men and women were killed instantly. “We also have information about women being raped. The goons (in groups of six to eight) were hiding at strategic points so that they could overpower the fleeing men and women,” said one of the three cops.

He recounted in horror: “The women cried for help, but no one came forward. Their menfolk retaliated, killing some of the criminals who were later to be projected as missing CPM men.” All the three cops corroborated that “IG (western range) Arun Gupta verbally ordered the firing. Yet, after the carnage, he started shouting: ‘Who gave you the authority to fire?’ The constables told him ‘the IG did’, not knowing that they were actually talking to the IG himself” (Times of India).

The whole incident is indescribably horrendous. While there is obviously nothing that the CPM can do to repair the damage done, if it wants to save the last shred of its credibility, it had better see to it that the party thugs who committed these atrocities are brought to book for their horrendous acts (no harm dreaming at times). The CPM has decried the use of rape by the state as a means of terrorizing the population time and time again in various parts of India, including Kashmir and Gujarat; the party had better make an example of these rapists and murderers within its own ranks.

Speaking of which, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sent a delegation to visit a Nandigram and get some media ops with suffering people. BJP top brass LK Advani lashed out against the state government:

Moved at the plight of the victims of police action here, senior BJP leader L K Advani today said it was difficult to comprehend how a government could take such action against the people.

“What I have seen has shocked me. What the Chief Minister has done I cannot believe,” a moved Advani said after meeting injured villagers at Nandigram Hospital here.

He said that only after visiting the place could the real extent of tragedy be known. “I could not understand why a government could take such an action” (The Hindu).

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