West Bengal – Press statement on APDR’s state conference on 40th anniversary

July 18, 2012

The 24th Conference of APDR was held on 14 & 15 July 2012 at Tapan Datta Mancha (Sri Tyagraja Hall), Sariful Islam Nagar (Kolkata). The conference, held in the 40th anniversary year of the longest functioning human rights organisation in the country, was attended by more than 350 delegates from APDR’s branches spread all over West Bengal. Sixty-seven delegates from such far-flung branches as Alipurduar, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Jalangi, Beliatore, Jhargram, etc., as well as from Kolkata and its vicinity took part in the deliberations. The secretarial report presented by General Secretary Debaprasad Roy Choudhury and adopted unanimously by the conference strongly condemned the present state government’s policy of continuing detention, fresh arrests, slapping of UAPA and torture of political prisoners and fake encounters. In this context the functioning of the review committee for political prisoners formed by the state government received sharp criticism. The conference demanded unconditional release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of joint forces from the Jangal Mahal, scrapping of UAPA, NIA and NCTC.

On the neoliberal economic policies pursued by the state and central governments, the conference observed that these policies are depriving the people of their basic right to food, land, habitat and livelihood. The conference expressed solidarity with the people’s struggles to protect their rights and oppose eviction and displacement (as in Nonadanga and by the street hawkers, slum dwellers and others).

The conference expressed grave concern over the attack on freedom of expression and freedom of association in the state as evidenced by curbs on peaceful democratic movements, banning of certain newspapers from public libraries, continuing enforcement of section 144 in large parts of the state, not allowing dissenting voices to speak up in Jangal Mahal and continuing political violence with state patronage. Other demands included withdrawal of Operation Green Hunt and immediate enactment of an effective Prevention of Torture legislation. The Sarkeguda massacre in Chhattisgarh, where APDR has taken part in an all-India fact-finding as a part of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), was strongly condemned.

The conference elected Sri Sachhidananda Banerjee as President, Amitadyuti Kumar as Working President and Dhiraj Sengupta as General Secretary.

Dipankar Chakraborty, Subhendu Dasgupta, Jagabandhu Adhikari, Tapas Chakraborty, Sanat Roy Chowdhury, Sanat Kar and Siddhartha Guha Ray were elected Vice-presidents while Abhiranjan Bhaduri, Sudipta Sen, Bapi Sengupta and Rangta Munshi were elected Assistant Secretaries. The secretariat elected by the conference includes the outgoing General Secretary Debaprasad Roy Choudhury and former General Secretary Sujato Bhadra.