Fact-finding team on Lalgarh arrested

This page is a part of Sanhati’s Lalgarh reporting.

June 27, 2009: Statement from Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners on arrest of fact-finding team
June 28, 2009: Menon and others released, threaten to move HC against WB govt

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Statement from Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners on arrest of fact-finding team

June 27, 2009

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) strongly condemn the high handed authoritarian attitude of the West Bengal government to brow beat all public opinion towards its murderous suppression of the Adivasis of Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal. No other government committed to democratic principles will dare stop a Fact Finding Team comprising of lawyers, social activists, women’s activists, filmmakers and trade unionists. It shows that the government of West Bengal would loathe the fact of its violent act on the Adivasis coming to the light of the freedom loving people in the subcontinent and worldwide. The outright anti-democratic, authoritarian nature of the West Bengal government is further evident from its brazen refusal to let the International Team of the Amnesty International from visiting the region of Lalgarh.

The All India Fact Finding Team was detained at the Midnapore station in the evening of 27 June 2009 while on their way to Lalgarh. They were taken to the Midnapore police station and was later arrested under 151 Cr PC. The team comprised of Gopal Menon a documentary filmmaker who has been making films on the oppressed nationalities, the marginalized, discriminated and exploited. Apart from the filmmaker, the team comprised of Padma, prominent women’s activist from Chennai, KN Pandit a senior trade unionist and the Central Council Member of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) from Ranchi, Damodar another Central Council Member of VVJVA from Ranchi, Tinku Executive Member of the Revolutionary Democratic Forum (RDF), M.Srinivas from the Patriotic Democratic Forum, Andhra Pradesh, Rajkishore, Secretary (RDF) and Susnato Chatterjee the assistant of the filmmaker.

The CRPP request all freedom loving and democratic sections of the people to protest these outright fascist methods of the CPM-led government who have been insisting that they would politically deal with the Maoists and the people of Lalgarh. Further, the government has been maintaining that they would look forward to the minimum loss of life and destruction of property while dealing with the agitating people of Lalgarh. If they are true to their words then they should allow those who prepared to go and see themselves the modus operandi of the CPM-led government’s way of dealing with the just demands of the people of Lalgarh.

We strongly fear and apprehend that the CPM-led government of West Bengal wants to hide the real face of its brutal repression on the people of Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal. We strongly demand the immediate release of all the members of All India Fact Finding team. We also appeal to the international community and all democratic sections in the subcontinent to raise their voice against suppression of the genuine right to freedom of movement and right to information of the people.

In Solidarity,

Gurucharan Singh (President)
AmitBhattacharyya (Secretary General)
SAR Geelani (Vice President)
Rona Wilson (Secretary Public Relations)

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Menon and others released, threaten to move HC against WB govt

June 28, 2009

Fact-finding Committee of India, a human rights organisations whose eight members were arrested while heading Lalgarh and were later released, on Sunday said it would move the state High Court and launch indefinite hunger strike demanding free movement.

“We are not leaving West Bengal. We will move the High Court and if required hold an indefinite fast if we are not allowed to move freely,” the organization’s team leader Gopal Menon said.

Menon and his 7-member team were detained by the police at Midnapore railway station on their arrival from Kolkata yesterday, and later interrogated and arrested.

They were released on unconditional bail and escorted to Kolkata after they refused an offer for release on conditional bail.

“Why should we accept conditional bail? Such bails are applicable to criminals. We have no criminal records. We did not go to Lalgarh. We were arrested from Midnapore,” Menon, a documentary film maker on human rights and environment with several awards to his credit, said.

He accused the West Bengal government of trying to hide the Lalgarh situation and claimed that even Ammesty International had not been allowed to visit the place.

Stating that Amnesty International was allowed even in war zones, Menon said, “The (West Bengal) government is hiding the Lalgarh situation from the world. This is not right in a democratic country. The situation is not so hush-hush in the other states with Maoist presence”.

Claiming that there had been “enormous” human rights violation in Lalgarh, he said “The government is playing the role of the oppressor. We have information that women are being stripped on the pretext of body search”.

Describing the state government as “regressive” , he said it was trying to manipulate situations in favour of certain industrial houses. “This has happened in Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh”.