India: Scientist supporter of Nonadanga anti-eviction protesters released on bail

Scientist gets bail after Mamata govt faces public ire

Dr Partho Sarothi Ray

Dr Partho Sarothi Ray

Apr 18, 2012

KOLKATA: The Mamata Banerjee government finally bowed before the groundswell of support for the arrested scientist Partha Sarathi Ray. On Tuesday, a city court granted him bail after 10 days in jail custody. But the bail pleas of six others arrested with Ray on April 8 were denied.Ray’s arrest has been condemned by thousands of peers, students and rights activists from across the globe. Nobel laureate Noam Chomsky wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his release. Hundreds of voices claimed that Ray was framed by the Bengal governmentbecause he was fighting for the rehabilitation of those evicted from Nonadanga.On Tuesday, the scientist’s lawyer Subhasis Roy submitted the bail petitions for all seven arrested activists. The state counsel, Tapan Saha, did not oppose Ray’s bail. “We do not have sufficient evidence against him,” said Saha, who opposed the bail of the six others, including Debolina Chakraborty. The lawyer pointed out that in the past week, the police could not find anything to substantiate their claims against Ray.Around 7 in the evening, a magistrate granted bail to Ray but extended the remand of the rest. He may walk out of Presidency jail by Wednesday afternoon.

Political experts believe that the increasing pressure from different quarters in India and abroad forced the state government not to oppose Ray’s bail petition. Hundreds have joined the online signature campaign. A Delhi-based rights body has started a signature campaign for Debolina, saying she is a “victim of state revenge”.

Ray was among 61 protesters picked up by police during a demonstration against the Nonadanga eviction on April 8. A nine-year-old girl also spent hours in police lock-up before all but seven of them were freed. Ray, Debolina, Sidhhartha Gupta, Baban Chatterjee, Abhigyan Sarkar, Samik Chakraborty and Debjani Ghosh were arrested. All seven were accused of assaulting police officers during an agitation on April 4. Debolina was charged in a two-year-old case for alleged Maoist links. They were remanded in jail custody till April 26. Continue reading

India: Ongoing Hunger strike and Resistance of Evicted People at Nonadanga

April 16: Pamphlet issued by Uchhed Pratirodh Committee  —  Nonadanga, Kolkata

The incident

On 30th March, the present TMC-led West Bengal government, its administration and police have demolished our temporary shanties with their bulldozers, set fire to them and tried to evict us from the area. We tried twice to organize peaceful sit-in protests and demonstrations in the nearby Ruby Hospital crossing to publicly highlight our condition and demand our legitimate right to housing. Instead of listening to our concerns, on 4th April, police forcefully broke and dispersed the gathering by rampant lathicharge; some plain-clothes personnel also pounced on the unarmed women.

Though majority of the protesters were women, no women cops were present at the site. Police kicked Rita Patra, a twenty-one year old woman in advanced pregnancy, nor did they spare two-and-half year old Joy Paswan, whose head was hit with lathi. Many of the injured were taken to the Calcutta Medical College, where some of them were admitted. And the second demonstration on 8th April was nipped at its bud when police arrested majority of the protesters and whisked them away to Kolkata police headquarter (Lalbazar). Late in the night, the protesters were released except seven of them, who were produced in the court and charged with various false and ridiculous charges including illegal gathering, illegal possession of weapons etc. All of these seven people are from different democratic organizations and individuals who came in support for us. To make matters worse, a section of the media, especially the ones loyal to the ruling party, are continuously branding the protesters as ‘Maoists’ and cooking up entirely distorted stories, to the point of being preposterous. The arrested seven were remanded to three days of police custody till the 12th; in the next hearing, they were sent to jail custody up to 26th April. One of the seven has been charged under UAPA and sent to CID custody till 21st April. Surprisingly, about forty lawyers, allegedly having allegiance to the ruling party stood against the accused in the courtroom along with the public prosecutor. To add to the instances of virtual clampdown, unprecedented in recent times, police again arrested about seventy protesters on April 9th they were about to start their protest march from the College Street square. Continue reading