July 19: Rights body for release of political prisoners

July 19, 2011

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/Rights-body-for-release-of-political-prisoners/articleshow/9277952.cms

KOLKATA: Demanding unconditional release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of security forces from Jangalmahal, a three member team from Lalgarh Mancha – believed to be a mass organization of Maoist sympathizers – submitted a memorandum to the chief minister’s office at Writers’ Building on Monday afternoon. Before heading for the state secretariat, Lalgarh Mancha and several other mass organizations took out a rally of 3,000 Jangalmahal residents who marched from College Square to Metro Channel.

Political observers believe that the ‘Writers’ venture’ was planned by the Maoist sympathizers to show their strength as the government-appointed committee to review the release of political prisoners was scheduled to meet on Monday and decide on the first list of prisoners to be released.

Hardliners among different rights organizations took an active role in the rally and refused to accept the case by case review policy announced by the government. Leaders of the CPI (ML) New Democracy also participated in the rally along with other organizations like Matangini Mohila Samity and United Students’ Democratic Front.

While this section of rights activists have been intensifying their movement against the government along with Jangalmahal outfit Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), another section of activists believe that it is not the proper time to go against the government. They feel members of the civil liberties movement should cooperate with the present government.

The agitating group, however, alleged that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government has failed to keep its pre-poll promises of repealing the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, withdrawing security forces from Jangalmahal and releasing political prisoners. “The government has already started police operations in Jangalmahal. They turned down a PCPA proposal for dialogue and hatched a plan to silence tribal protests by arresting their leaders,” said Ashok Jiban, a leader from Jangalmahal.

Kolkata: Bandi Mukti Committee on Monday recommended release of 78 prisoners, who had earlier been declared by the court as political prisoners. However, as one of the prisoners is serving a life sentence, his case will be moved separately by the state government, for his release, an official said.

A core panel of six members was formed among the committee members to look into the pending cases of the political prisoners at the sessions courts.

The committee had taken into consideration the case of the political prisoners, but it is yet to take any decision on the release of the Maoists. Moreover, the committee will be discussing the cases against the Maoists, including the details of the FIR and seizure list. The committee members are in favour of releasing Himadri Sen, a Maoist leader. But as his case is in the sessions court, the core committee will also take stock of the charges against Sen. Moreover, the committee also wanted release of 77 villagers of Singur, who had been politically named in various cases. Already Trinamoool Congress MLA Becharam Manna had moved the committee for exonerating the villagers from the charges, as they were politically framed for their agitation against the Tata site. Meanwhile, the panel will visit the district jails to urge the held political activists to move the court for getting political prisoner status.