Mr. Naba Dutta along with three companions; Ms. Progna Paromita Dutta Roy Chowdhury, Mr. Gautam Ghosh and Mr. Dipankar Mazumdar all associated with Nagarik Mancha, a civil society organization mainly focused on environmental and labor issues, went to a pre-announced and well-publicised dharna front of the Block Development Officer’s office at Narayangarh block of West Midnapur. The programme was organized by Lodha Shabar Vumij Kalyan Smiti.
Mr. Naba Datta and his companions arrived from Kolkata by a Toyota Quallis, registration number WB-02M-8565. After peacefully concluding the meeting they started for Kolkata in the same vehicle. In the car along with the abovementioned activists were its driver Mr. Ashok Midhya and Mr. Joydeb Singh of Lodha Shabar Vumij Kalayan Samiti.
Car flagged down by police after peaceful protest
On the way to Kolkata, a lone police vehicle intercepted them and ordered them to follow it. The people in the police vehicle, who were in plain clothes, gave no reason for the order. When asked why they were committing what was an illegal act, the police replied, ‘we are taking you to Narayangarh Police Station’.
Mr. Naba Dutta’s car followed the police vehicle without further argument. When the cars passed Narayangarh Police Station, he and his companions sensed foul play and asked the police personnel about their real motive and where they were intending to take them, but the police refused to give any answer and repeated to the driver of Naba Datta’s car that he must follow their vehicle.
After a long drive the police car stopped in front of Sadatpur Investigation Centre (Jhargram Police Station) and told Mr Dutta and his colleagues to wait. After a few anxious minutes Mr. Naba Dutta was taken alone to Manikpur Beat House. His colleagues i.e. Ms. Progna Paromita Dutta Roy Chowdhury, Mr. Gautam Ghosh, Mr. Dipankar Mazumdar of Nagarik Mancha and Mr. Joydeb Singh of Lodha Shabar Vumij Kalayan Samiti together with the driver, Mr. Ashok Middhya were asked to submit PR (Personal Release) Bonds and released from custody.
Mr Naba Dutta held, whereabouts not known
Mr. Dutta continued to be held and was thereafter taken in another police car, no. WB 34N 0011 from Manikpara Beat House to Sadatpur Investigation Centre again, a drive of about 90 km, where according to our information he was held till 9.30pm. His whereabouts after this are not known.
The police personnel who arrested Mr. Naba Dutta and his associates were in plain clothes, in violation of guidelines laid down by the apex court of India in DK Basu case (AIR 1997 SC 610) regarding proper procedures of arrest, under which also Mr. Dutta’s family must be told where he is and given details of charges framed against him. The police made the arrest without a warrant, again in violation of the aforementioned guidelines and contrary to the Criminal procedure Code.
Fears for the safety and well-being of Mr Dutta
The whole episode was not only illegal but carried out on the whim of police and district authorities. Such misdeeds again confirm that the rule of law is in verge of collapse, with every dissenting voice maimed by the authoritarian approach of the state and its machinery.
We are deeply concerned about the physical and psychological state of Mr. Naba Dutta, a renowned human rights activist and are apprehensive that his personal safety is at risk.
We demand the immediate unconditional release of Mr. Naba Dutta as it is a violation of guidelines established by the National Human Rights Commission om Human Rights Defenders.
We also demand that the state authority should immediately reveal his whereabouts in public and ensure his safety and well being.
We strongly condemn the act of the police and the West Bengal Government which demonstrates that they are not willing to follow the rule of law.
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
26 Guitendal Lane
West Bengal INDIA
Tele Fax : +91-33-2640 4118
Phone: +91-33-2640 4520
e. mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Dutta’s friends have reason to fear for his safety. Disappearances and fake encounters engineered by police are not unknown in West Bengal. Three years ago Mr Dutta himself issued the following appeal on behalf of Partha Majumdar, who was abducted by police in 1997 and has since disappeared without trace.
Police abducted Partha Majumdar (30) in front of witnesses. Since 5 September 1997 Partha has disappeared.
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission in its enquiry report confirmed disappearance from police custody.
Later the CID charge sheeted the accused. The charge levelled against 11 police personnel was ‘kidnapping or abducting in order to murder’. The accused includes 1 Additional SP, 2 Inspectors, 3 Sub-Inspectors,
4 Constables and a Home Guard
The accused police personnel have not been suspended. They are threatening witnesses. No wonder some witnesses are turning hostile. They are threatening the family members of the victim. The family is fighting with its back to the wall – they have written 76 times to Government representatives and are yet to receive a single reply.
The trial is on. Senior police personnel, though accused, attend trial at Court with red lights flashing and security guards. But they are not being suspended.
Rizwanur has hit the headlines. Suspension of the police personnel involved in this case is being talked about. Alleged involvement alone might result in suspension.
But Rizwanur is just the tip of the iceberg. Let us go deeper. The might of the police has deeper roots.
Police personnel have been found guilty or accused or convicted for fake encounter deaths, murder or disappearance in a large number of cases in West Bengal. Mostly none have been punished or even
suspended. The administration remains inert.
Police has never been too far away from being a lawless and unlawful force.
Press Conference on 12 October 2007 (Friday), 4pm
at George Bhavan , 13/1 Creek Lane, Kolkata 700014.
(Lane adjacent to the Dental College – between Moulali and Sealdah)
The Press Conference is being collectively organised by:
Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samiti, Shramajibi Mahila Samiti, Torture
Victim Support Forum, MASUM, Nagarik Mancha and other civil society
A deputation will be submitted to the Chief Minister, West Bengal in this matter.
Ph: 23731921(O) and 9831172060(M)