APPEAL FOR THE RELEASE OF
SOCIAL ACTIVIST DEBASHIS CHAKRABORTY
Arrested on 29 July 2005 from his office at about 8:30 p.m. in Siliguri, Dist. Darjeeling, West Bengal.
He was summoned by the Additional. S.P., Siliguri with reference to Siliguri P.S. Case no. 109/05 dated 18.04.05, u/s 498-A of IPC against his brother-in-law upon a complaint of his sister but he was arrested in the police van on the basis of his alleged links with MCC (I) as mentioned in the FIR (139/04) of 18.05.04 filed by O.C., Matigara P.S. u/s 121/121A/122/ 123/124A of IPC and few floppies along with the CPU of his computer were seized. At the time of arrest the police had refused to issue any arrest memo despite repeated demands to produce it.
The FIR (139/04) includes a name of one Debashis Chakraborty with no address or name of father to recognise him. According to the FIR, on the night of 17.05.04 the Matigara O.C. raided the house of one Subhash Chakraborty and arrested 9 members of MCC and PWG. On interrogation, the 9 accused persons allegedly confessed that a few leaders of MCC and PWG were organising secret meetings in various places of North Bengal to spread their ideology to wage war through armed struggle against the State and Central Governments and to achieve this they had formed an armed wing called the Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army. The list of leaders so named included the name of Debashis, supposedly a Central Committee member of MCC from Siliguri as stated in the FIR. Based on the documents (which include leaflets and newspapers with no reference to the names mentioned by the 9 arrested persons) and confessions of the 9 arrested persons the FIR states that “ …it is clearly established that the accused persons and the leaders and other members of MCC (I)/PWG have entered in to a conspiracy to wage war and overthrow the constitutionally established government of India and state of West Bengal and committed seditious activities to bring about disaffection to the established law of the land and procure arms, ammunition and explosives for PLGA to unleash an illegal armed struggle against the state. Thereby the accused persons have designed an abetment and aided with clear intention and motive to wage war against the state and as such clearly committed offences u/s 121/121A/122/123/124A IPC.”
In a strikingly similar performance of raid as mentioned in the FIR (182/04) filed by the O.C., P.S. Bhaktinagar, Dist. Jalpaiguri, West Bengal on 19.05.04 at the house of one Khidra Mohan Roy, two more arrests were made who once again confessed to similar links with MCC (I)/ PWG and gave the names of the same leaders who were conspiring to wage war against the democratically elected governments of the nation. Here too Debashis’ name features along with others.
Both these FIRs were lodged at a time when Debashis was in Bangalore working as a Business Development Manager for a Japanese multinational, Gestetner (India) Ltd. He has been posted in Bangalore by the same since March 2004. He resigned from his office in May 2005 on grounds of attending to family responsibility and started a business as agent of Gestetner (India) Ltd. as sales and services for Siliguri and the Northeast.
Debashis was first produced in the Siliguri Court on 30 July 2005. His bail plea was rejected and he was remanded to Police custody for 7 days on the ground that “…there is a chance of recovery of papers and arrest of other co-accused”. There was an simultaneous appeal made by his counsel on this day for keeping the seized computer and floppies in judicial custody to avoid its tampering which was also rejected by the lower court. He was produced in the lower court again on 5 August 2005. This time too his bail appeal was rejected. According to the ACJM, “… only mere technical mistake regarding arrest of the accused or any defect in the FIR shall not be a cogent ground to grant bail. Moreover, … the investigation is in preliminary stage. …(Also) materials in the CD which bar …grant (of) bail at this stage.”
However the plea of the prosecution to retain him in police custody was rejected and he was remanded to judicial custody till 17 August 2005. On the 17th his bail plea was rejected again and his judicial remand extended till the 30th. On the 30th his bail appeal was again rejected on the basis of the previous order of the Session Judge, Darjeeling at Siliguri. But the court did not grant permission of interrogation of Debashis by the I.B. Next hearing was on 14 September 2005 and bail was yet again rejected this time at the District court. Five bail pleas have till date been rejected by the lower and the district courts on no definite ground. No evidence has yet been produced by the prosecution which points remotely to his involvement in any activity directly or indirectly aimed at unsettling the democratically elected governments at the state level or at the centre.
While the judicial machinery of the state as well as the police are convinced that granting bail to Debashis would have a “bad impact upon the society”, the civil society, the media, both print and the electronic, as well as political parties, including smaller left front allies as well as the opposition, seem to be thinking otherwise. A spontaneous series of protest meetings were organised across the town of Siliguri the day after the arrest. A call for a 12-hour bandh on 4 August 2005 was given by the Citizens’ Convention on 30 July. The Deputy Mayor of the town (a district committee member of CPI), district leaders of RSP, the district secretary of CPI (ML)- Liberation, along with several professors from the North Bengal University and representatives from various voluntary organisations and NGO’s were present at the convention and each one of them vehemently condemned the arrest of Debashis. Representatives of 40 mass organisations and several intellectuals of the university town took to the streets in support of the bandh call given by APDR- Siliguri branch, Siliguri Welfare Organisation (SWO) and a few other voluntary organisations. The bandh was a complete success despite opposition from the largest constituent of the left front. This was followed by several street corners in Siliguri on 6 and 7 August, a 72-hour sit-in-demonstration by 40 organisations near Siliguri court from 9 August, a cycle rally across the five districts of North Bengal from the 13th, culminating to a protest meeting on 17 August, the day of his third bail plea. Representatives of voluntary welfare organisations, human rights and non-governmental organisations from Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Lataguri and Malbazaar along with several organisations from the Siliguri sub-division participated in these programmes. Writers, artists and cultural activists have also joined the ranks of the protesters. Mass signature campaigns have been organised to demand his unconditional release in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar. The media has also showed their dissent to this gross violation of human rights and has given wide positive coverage to the popular movement. A widespread dissent at the false implication of Debashis by the state has developed across the districts of North Bengal.
The spontaneity and spread of the protest at the arrest of an individual surely points at the fact that the civil society is certain that this person has been falsely implicated and that he has the right to a political opinion as long as that does not threaten the democratic structure of the nation. There is no evidence that he has played any role actively or even otherwise in unsettling the democratic structure of the nation. He is an ordinary member of the civil society but one with a conscience strong enough to be part of struggles for rights of people, against policies of the government that excludes access of the masses to benefits that should be provided by the state as well as one who plays an active role in relief operations organised by the state institutions using his expertise as a trained mountaineer. He has been called in by the local as well as district authorities from time to time both as an individual as well as a member of Siliguri Welfare Organisation, of which he had been the unanimously elected secretary for three consecutive terms, to be part of relief operations in flood and landslide ravaged districts of North Bengal. He was a part of the team that volunteered at the Gaisal train tragedy. He was also one of the few volunteers who had kept vigil at the Siliguri hospital and North Bengal Medical College at the time of the mysterious killer viral fever (when even the doctors and nurses had escaped from the town in fear of getting affected) that killed around 40 people in Siliguri alone in 1999. This is a man who has risked his life several times to facilitate the state machinery in emergency situations. Why would he do so if he were so committed to “waging war” against this very state? If he is so dangerous a person that he cannot even be granted bail then why has the state in so many earlier occasions called upon him to help them in exigencies?
Let us unite and demand
- Immediate and unconditional release of Debashis Chakraborty
- An end to victimisation of social workers in the name of democracy
- Restoration of a democratic environment with due respect for human rights in the state of West Bengal
Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharya,
Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal,
APPEAL FOR THE RELEASE OF SOCIAL ACTIVIST DEBASHIS CHAKRABORTY
You might be aware that Sri. Debashis Chakraborty was arrested on 29 July 2005 from his office in Hakimpara, Siliguri u/s 121/121A/122/123/124A IPC against an FIR (139/04) of 18.05.04 filed by O.C., Matigara P.S., District Darjeeling.
Debashis has been an active social worker and has also taken part in various activities that have benefited the people of Siliguri in particular and North Bengalat large. Large sections of the civil society from all walks of life have joined in to seek release of Debashis. We feel that such arrests go against the basic democratic character of West Bengal.
Keeping Debashis’ past valuable contribution to the society in mind and the fact that he has a record of being a responsible member of the civil society we urge upon you to kindly take this case into consideration and seek for his immediate release from custody.