Chhatradhar Mahato: On the attack on prisoners in Midnapur Jail

April 3, 2011

Bengali Original here [PDF]

An appeal to all democratic minded people of West Bengal from the political prisoners of Medinipur Jail

On 21 March 2011 we came to know that in Ward 7B, Kailash Das was beaten to death by four goons called Nabi Bux alias Ashok, Babulal Yadav, Brindaban, and Uttam Sahoo, with the support of the jail authorities. After learning of this, the undertrial prisoners went on a spontaneous agitation. Upon investigating, we came to know that this brutal murder took place on March 20. Because there is no doctor in Medinipur Jail at night, and there is no availability of proper infrastructure of medical facilities, that poor rickshaw puller from Kharagpur died from extreme carelessness and lack of treatment. Jail authorites tried to cover it up by claiming that Kailash Das died after consuming liquor.

Before this, on the many occasions when we agitated, we protested the lack of healthcare infrastructure, Dr. Somnath Saha’s negligence and bad behavior towards patients and Dr. Saha’s interest towards business more than treatment. Jail authorities have consistently covered up the whole thing.

On the afternoon of 21 March, when undertrials were protesting, the murderers of Kailash Das attacked them with knives, sticks, and bricks. Amongst the injured were Janasadharan Committee leader Dilip Mahato, worker and supporter Sitaram Soren, Ranjit Patra, and a general undertrial Somnath Bhattacharya. This caused the prisoners to become more agitated. They organized a sit-in the jail’s Central Tower and put forward 3 demands.

1. Kailash Das’s murderers have to be brought to book after judicial inquiry
2. Jail authorities have to give compensation to the family of the deceased
3. The injured four have to be taken immediately to the city hospital for treatment.

Protesting prisoners announced a program of fasting on March 22 on these points.
Prisoners have been kept in inhuman conditions for a long time. Filtered drinking water is absent and water for general use is scarce. Quality of food is terrible. Medicine is adulterated, etc. On these demands, and also other socio-political, under the leadership of the PCAPA prisoners, general prisoners have continued a non-stop movement. Protesters did not back off in the face of threats of the authorities.
On the side, the fascist CPIM government, after conducting immense repression in the Jangal Mahal, after murdering and disappearing many leader-workers, imprisoning them, burning villages, raping women, ruining crops, establishing Harmad camps and perpetrating massacres, have been successful in temporarily curbing the movement. Those same people, behind bars, have protested every political issue and remained vocal about all general demands without bowing down.

Under the leadership of West Medinipur police super Manoj Verma, jail authorities were conspiring to suppress this. So, on March 22, in the morning when prisoners were protesting lack of water, on the slightest pretext jail authorities rang the alarm and pounced on them with the help of CPIM-influenced guards. Undertrail prisoners in Ward 2 and 5, and in cell 32 were locked up and Ward 3 was then attacked. Opening the ward, fifty-five prisoners were attacked with sticks, knives, and razors. Seriously injured were Ainul Khan, Radheshyam Das, Buddhadev Mahato, Kamal Mandal, Mangal Soren, Ranjit Patra, Somnath Bhattacharya, etc. Since Ward 3 had been at the forefront of all struggles, it attracted the maximum wrath of the authorities. Attacking jail guards were accompanied by the murderers of Kailash Das. Buddhadev Mahato, a student of Silda College, was cut with a razor in the face, by Nabi Bux alias Ashok. Other injured broke their arms, heads were fractured, and backs were criticially injured. AIG (prison) Kalyan Kumar Pramanik, DIG (prison) Sovan Kumar Deen, Jailer (chief controller) Swapan Kumar Ray, Chief Warden Shyamapada Ray, and Section Warden Dipak Baidya led the attacks. The injured were not taken to the city hospital for fear of word leaking out. On the contrary, one of the attacking goons, Babulal Yadav, was given treatment in the city hospital, on the pretext of chest pain.

While Ainul Khan was unconscious, they hid a knife in his waist and later seized it, and claimed that it was the victims who were the aggressors. Manoj Verma, who is not too bright, tried to do the same during the Netai massacre, but it boomeranged. The same will happen in this case. Our injured prisoners have been kept segregated, so that nobody can correspond with them. PCAPA leaders have been kept imprisoned in their cells 24 hours, so that they cannot give mental strength to the prisoners. The above officers conducted a rampant loot of the jail. Books, soap, biscuit, sugar, and mosquito repellants, which had been allowed to pass the jail gates, were looted from cells in a Harmad-like fashion.

Jail authorities are publicising the incidents of March 22 as a fight between undertrial and convicted prisoners. It isn’t that at all. The relations between the two groups are quite good. Both sides have some bad people and agents of the authorties, just as happens at every level of society. Whenever politcal prisoners in Medinipur Jail have protested, they have kept the demands of convicted prisoners in the front. The convicted know that, and have never responded to the provocations of the jail authorities. It is this unified movement that has won for the prisoners whatever rights they have inside today.

Us political prisoners, however tortured, will never bow down before the jail authorities. A fast has been undertaken on the issue of the attacks on March 22. On April 4, on other demands, another fast will be conducted. The people will earn their rights. Our appeal to you: do not ignore these issues by thinking of them as “jail affairs”. Stand by the prisoners, defeat the lies of the jail authorities, stand by the unity of the prisoners, make efforts so that the injured get immediate treatment, and with the families of the injured, go to the higher courts and file cases of attempted murder charges against the above officers. Build a larger movement outside. On the issue, give efforts according to capabilities. Stand against the violation of human rights in jail, investigate the incidents independently, and demand the punishment of the jail officers. Demand the reform of jails in West Bengal. Demand the freedom of political prisoners, as well as the convicted who have been imprisoned for a long time.

Regards,

Chhatradhar Mahato
(on behalf of the attacked prisoners of Medinipur Jail).
March 27, 2011