Kolkata : Statements against the arrest of activists protesting against violence on women – Maitree, NTUI

June 15, 2013

[The activists were booked under Section 151 CrPC (Apprehension of breach of peace and tranquility of an area) and released on personal bonds after about six hours of detention. – Ed]

Statement from Maitree

On 13 June, in the morning, Maitree members gathered near Kalighat, to try and meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and hand over to her a letter of protest. Maitree had felt compelled to adopt this course on the 12th, as the news of the rape and murder of a school student in Nadia came hard on the heels of the whole Barasat episode – where a college student had been brutally gang raped and murdered, where some of the accused had TMC links, where the police had acted only after tremendous pressure from local people, and where the government, through a minister, had offered “compensation” to the family of the woman, while the Chief Minister had refused to meet civil society activists at Writers Buildings.

The totally peaceful gathering, modest in size, was told by the police to disperse. When they wanted to hand over a protest letter to the CM, they were told to hand over the letter to the police. On their rejection of this offer, on the ground that it was the CM who was the elected representative and the head of the government, thirteen of them were arrested and dragged into waiting vans which took them over to the Lal Bazar Central Lock-up.

It should be noted that from the rape of a speech and hearing impaired woman back in the 1990s to the rape and murder of Tapasi Malik during the Singur agitation, Mamata Banerjee’s rise to power has been connected to using cases of violence on women as major campaign issues. It is therefore particularly offensive, that once in power, she has chosen to act the way she does – sometimes accusing the victims of being liars and conspirators, sometimes silencing and suppressing civil society protests.

Maitree has demanded:

1. Immediate action against those who carry out violence against women

2. Ensuring that women have security and the right to work, study, get involved in all kinds of activities including leisure without any harassment and infringement on their mobility across West Bengal

3. Ensure that Barasat, which has become a particular trouble spot, where women are regularly sexually attacked, raped, etc, is freed of the criminal elements

4. Break up the illicit liquor dens in Barasat and end their connections with political parties

We urge everyone to also demand the immediate release of everyone arrested, and also to demand that the West Bengal government must accept the right of all, regardless of their political positions, to protest peacefully and democratically on issues they think are important.

13 June 2013


Statement from New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)

An impatient administration that tries to stifle the voice of protests, unmasks itself much more than critics can possibly do. This morning, members of Maitree, a Kolkata based network of women’s groups, assembled peacefully outside Mamta Banerjee’s residence, asking for an appointment to submit a letter of protest to the Chief Minister against the two recent cases of gang rape and murder. They had earlier tried to hand over the same at the Writer’s building on Monday, but she had refused to meet the delegation. The grotesque rape, murder and violence against two students in Barasat and Krishnaganj, Nadia, in the last few days is an ample indication of the appalling law and order situation in the state and the administration’s dismal failure to ensure safety and security of women. The members of Maitree wanted to draw the Chief Minister’s personal attention to this in a bid to ensure her personal intervention in this issue.

Instead of receiving their protest letter, the police arrested 13 women instantly. Anuradha Kapoor, Swapna, Kakali Bhattacharya, Anchita Ghatak, Shyamali Das, Ratnaboli Roy Sharmishtha Dutta Gupta, Shreya Sanghari, Madhura Chakraborty, Shreya Chakraborty, Sudeshna Basu, & Aditi Basu were whisked away to Lalbazar where they are currently detained at the Labazar central lock up. Abir Niyogy who was earlier taken away to Kalighat police station and has been currently transfered to Labazar central lock.

NTUI strongly condems this arrest by the police and demands an immediate and unconditional release of the members of Maitree. We strongly uphold the peoples’ right to dissent and protest. We also call upon the Government, judiciary and law enforcing agencies for an immediate arrest of culprits, a proper investigation and a fair and unbiased trial which would enable victims and their families in accessing justice and lead culprits towards due punishment; otherwise, this wave of brutality against women would remain endless and unabated.