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