CDRO tribute on the untimely death of three civil and democratic rights activists

February 1, 2013

The member organisations of CDRO are saddened by the death of three democratic and civil liberty activists in the last one week – Professor Dipankar Chakroborty, Vice President of Association for Protection of Democratic (APDR), West Bengal; Chandrasekar (47), civil right activist and a popular human rights lawyer in Andhra Pradesh and Pradeep Sapolia, Secretary of Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR), Dist. Mansa Unit, Punjab.

Professor Dipankar Chakroborty (71), popularly known as Dipankarda passed away on 27th January when he was being taken to the hospital after he developed respiratory problem. A great intellectual and Human Rights campaigner, Dipankarda was born in Dhaka on 14 December, 1941. He grew up in Murshidabad and then completed his education in Bahrampur and Kolkata. He taught economics and retired from Krishnanath College at Baharampur. A veteran of the Left movement since the sixties, he began publishing and editing Aneek in 1964 when ruptures in the CPI on ideological and political issues led to split and birth of the CPI(M). In the wake of the Naxalbari uprising three years later that had triggered another split and birth of the CPI(ML), Chakroborty did not join the new party. But he devoted himself to publishing Aneek. When APDR was formed in Calcutta on 25 June 1972, Dipankarda took the initiative to form one of its first branches outside Calcutta in Murshidabad in 1974. Since then, till his last breath he was one of the stalwarts who steered APDR through many turbulent periods. With promulgation of Emergency in 1975 APDR was banned and Dipankarda was arrested. He spent 19 months in prison and was released in 1977 and since then throughout his life he engaged himself in the publication of Aneek and participated in the socio-political activities in Bengal and other parts of India as an individual and also assumed various responsibilities in APDR. During the Singhur movement when the police was illegally evicting the Singur people by brutal force, Dipankarda stood by the side of the people. He was arrested from the Singur farmlands along with many activists such as Medha Patekar, Amitadyuti Kumar and Sumit Chaudhary. At the time of his death he was Vice President of APDR.

Chandrasekar (47), a popular human rights lawyer passed away on 22nd January. He is known for his significant role in getting the death sentence of Chalapati Raju and Vijayvardhan commuted to life imprisonment. Chalapati and Vijayvardhan were accused of setting a bus on fire in which 23 people were killed. He also played an extraordinary role as a public prosecutor in Tsundur Carnage case in which dalits were hunted and killed by upper caste people. It was by his effort that accused were convicted in this case. Chandrasekar always played a leading role in taking up the cases of dalits and the downtrodden. He did so from a deep sense of conviction, and his life was dedicated to the cause of providing justice to the downtrodden and dalits. His concern and hard work in fighting extra judicial murders (fake encounters) in the state unnerved the police establishment. He approached the High Court and Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission for justice in extra judicial murders and continued his fight till his death. He abhorred death penalty and played a key role in the campaign to abolish this system in Andhra Pradesh.

Pradeep Sapolia (48), an advocate by profession died on 26th January. As a pro-people advocate, Pradeep always showed an interest in providing legal assistance to the struggling farmers and agricultural labourers in Mansa and other districts of Punjab. Many of the people oriented organisations felt at ease in approaching Pradeep for seeking legal assistance. His closeness and sympathetic attitude towards these organizations can be seen from the fact that all these organizations active in Punjab attended the memorial service in his memory on Jan. 31. In the recent time, when AFDR was reviving its activities in Punjab, Pradeep took keen interest and played an active role in its Dist. Mansa unit. Pradeep took keen interest and actively participated in the two recent fact finding reports against police repression on the people which AFDR brought out.

Their loss would create a void both within the civil liberties and people’s movement and the organizations in which they were tirelessly contributed their time, intellect and resources. CDRO pays homage to their memories and their pro-people activities.

Paramjeet Singh (PUDR)
Kranti Chetanya (APCLC)
Tapas Chakravorty (APDR)
Parminder Singh (AFDR)
Phullendru Komsam (COHR)
(Coodinators)