West Bengal – Ranjit Murmu dies in custody while being held under UAPA

September 30, 2011

Second UAPA prisoner “killed” in jail custody

by Ranjit Sur

Ranjit Murmu was a Prisoner of Conscience in West Bengal’s Medinipur jail in connection with the Lalgarh PS case no. 161 dated 26th September 2009. He was booked under UAPA along with Chatradhar Mahato and five others. The date shows that he was arrested during the peak hours of Lalgarh uprising in the year 2009 i.e during the previous Left Front regime under Budhadeb Bhattacharya. After the installation of the new Mamata Banerjee government, the democratic people of Bengal raised alarm for his release along with other political prisoners. But the Mamata Banerjee government released him not only from the jail, but also from this material world by killing him without proper treatment during his illness in the jail custody. What was the nature of his illness? His family members i.e his wife and daughter informed that he had no serious ailment before his arrest. No jail official of Medinipur or Alipur ever informed them of his suffering from any serious illness. But NRS Hospital authority and Entally PS informed APDR, on inquiry, that Ranjit Murmu was suffering from serious kidney problems and he died of kidney failure. He had a history of malaria, they informed, during his prison days. All these informations were supplied verbally. No written communication from any quarter was received by his family even after 48 hours of his death.

So far the information gathered by APDR is as follows : Ranjit Murmu (55), son of late Vutu Murmu, is survived by his wife and daughter. He was a resident of Sejua area under Lalgarh PS. He was arrested on 26th Sept 2009. Medinipur jail authority sent him to Alipur jail for treatment . But no one supplied the date of his transfer to Alipur . Alipur jail authority got him admitted at SSKM Hospital on 5th Sept 2011. SSKM discharged him on 16.09.11. Again he was admitted at Bangur Institute of Neurology on 24th September. Bangur Hospital referred him to Chittaranjan Hospital that very day. Chittaranjan Hospital sent him to NRS where he died on 25th Sept at 6.50 am. None of the jail authorities or hospital authorities even bothered to inform his family members regarding his deteriorating health conditions. Only on 27th Sept they got verbal information of his death through Lalgarh PS. The family finally got delivery of the decomposed body of their dear one on 29th September evening with the help of APDR activists.

APDR bid farewell to a friend with tears – a friend who fought for democracy and honour during a small procession on the streets of Kolkata on that evening.

Ranjit Murmu is the second UAPA prisoner to die in a Kolkata jail, the first being Swapan Dasgupta, editor of Peoples March ( Bengali). Swapan was killed by the Budhadeb Bhattacharya government without giving him proper treatment. The new Mamata Banerjee government did the same thing to Ranjit Murmu. But the most alarming thing of the whole story is that Ranjit Murmu may not be the last one . Hundreds of political prisoners are living in inhuman conditions in Bengal jails. Many of them are charged under UAPA. Many of the prisoners are already attacked by one or more serious diseases because of torture and long stay in inhuman jail conditions. None of them is getting proper treatment and anyone can die any moment. Mamata didi gave VVIP treatment to serial killer CPM leader Susanta Ghosh and kept him in ICU of SSKM whereas she is killing without treatment those many others for whose fight she is now in Chief Minister’s Chair.

The unsung death of Ranjit Murmu rings the alarm bell for all rights activists and democratic people. If we really want to save the precious lives of Political Prisoners languishing in Bengal jails, we should make the bell louder and shriller so that it become intolerable to the rulers.

( Prepared with aditional inputs from Prasanta Halder of APDR)

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Statement from Committee For Release of Political Prisoners

Ranjit Murmu, son of Bhuta Murmu, a resident of village Sijua, Ghoraghata, PS. Lalgarh, Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal, was arrested by WB police in September 2009. He was tending his cattle in the field when he was taken away by the police. The state forces beat him up brutally and booked him under the draconian UAPA. That the charges were all framed up need any mention.

The years in prison told on his health and police brutality under the previous regime (Budhhadeb Bhattacharyya) added to his agony and suffering. He was sent to Alipur Jail in Kolkata from Medinipur Jail and kept handcuffed in a lock-up meant for the mentally challenged. That increased his ailments. When his condition deteriorated, he was first treated in the jail hospital and then sent to the SSKM hospital in Kolkata. The medicines that were given to him only had the opposite effect. Far from curing the disease, it led to the deterioration of his physical condition. His wife recounted the conversation in those days among the medical personnel as they kept on saying fuming with hatred as to how such persons should be killed. From SSKM, he was twice shifted to the NRS hospital. But there was hardly any improvement in his condition. On 25th September 2011, he breathed his last due to kidney failure. The government out to cover up its criminal act did not even bother to inform his family.

His death is another case of murder by slow poisoning of a person who was one of the struggling people of Lalgarh. His death is the result of cold blooded brutality perpetrated by the police, jail authorities and the criminal callousness indulged in by the hospital staff. This is the first murder of a political prisoner under the newly formed Mamata Banerjee-led government.

The CRPP strongly condemns this murder of Ranjit Murmu and demands an independent enquiry into the circumstances leading to his death and exemplary punishment to those who were responsible for his death. The CRPP also conveys its deep feeling of sorrow to the members of the bereaved family.

In Solidarity,
SAR Geelani (Working President)
Amit Bhattacharyya (Secretary General)
Rona Wilson (Secretary, Public Relations)

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Ranjit Murmu dies in custody while being held under UAPA

a report by Partho Sarothi Ray

September 28, 2011

We came to know yesterday that Ranjit Murmu, one of the undertrial political prisoners in Medinipur central jail, who had been brought to Kolkata ostensibly for some treatment, and shuttled from hospital to hospital, died in custody. This is the second death of a person charged under UAPA in West Bengal and the first under the new regime of the TMC. The facts surrounding his death are also not clear. He had apparently been suffering from some neurological problem but had been treated as an insane person by the police, who had also handcuffed him to the hospital bed. It was only yesterday that his family and others were informed by the jail authorities that he has died. However, today, when people went to get his body released, it turned out that he had died on 25th September. It is a mystery why the police and jail authorities did not inform his family for two days about his death. If the process of release of political prisoners has not been put on the back-burner by the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, in the name of reviewing, this elderly adivasi person from Lalgarh would probably have not lost his life.