Petition against slum demolition and detention of peaceful protestors at Nonadanga, Kolkata
Petition against slum demolition and detention of peaceful protestors at Nonadanga, Kolkata Last year a new government assumed power in the state of West Bengal, India on the strength of a popular anti-displacement movement. One year down the line the same government has been involved in a large scale displacement operation at Nonadanga, Kolkata, where 250 families were made homeless during an eviction drive at 10:30 a.m. on March 31. Since then the government, while peddling promises of “rehabilitation”, has been brutal at crushing any critique of its anti-people move. On April 4, Kolkata police used extreme force to break up a protest of the shanty dwellers near Ruby hospital on E.M. Bypass in Kolkata, injuring five people, including a pregnant woman, in the process. On April 8, the police broke up a peaceful day long sit in protest at the Ruby junction, claiming that it was illegal, despite having granted prior permission, and arrested 69 protesters, including 39 women and a child of nine years. 62 of them were charged under section 151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and were later released on personal release bond. However, Debolina Chakraborty, Sidhartha Gupta, Debjani Ghosh, Abhigyan Sarkar, Partho Sarothi Ray, Shamik Chakraborty, and Amal Chatterjee were detained for their alleged part in the April 4 protest, and booked under Sections 143,149,332,341,342 353 of the IPC which suggests that they had provoked people in wrongful activity, assembled illegally, and wrongfully restrained and resisted policemen. The seven activists were produced in court on Monday, and have been remanded to three days police custody. The state counsel raised the bogey of Maoism to demand two weeks police custody declaring that the activists have links with Naxal outfits. Though it was demonstrated in court that Partho Sarothi Ray, who is a faculty at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata, and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, was not present at the protest rally on April 4, he has also been remanded along with others. This smacks of vindictive intent of the government which is striving to silence a legitimate protest movement. We, the undersigned, strongly protest the slum eviction, the police violence, and the police custody of the seven activists including Partho Sarothi Ray.