Thursday, April 12, 2012

CDRO strongly and unequivocally condemns the attack on APDR members protesting against the Nonadanga slum demolition and the arbitrary arrest of anti-eviction activists.

Statement from Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO)
CDRO strongly and unequivocally condemns the attack on APDR members protesting against the Nonadanga slum demolition and the arbitrary arrest of anti-eviction activists.
Today, members and supporters of Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) had gathered at JD Park in South Kolkata, to take out a protest rally and proceed to the nearby Alipore court where the arrested activists were to be produced. Despite following due process of applying for permission, the police stopped them from taking out a rally. To make matters worse, a large group of TMC hooligans also descended on the spot, led by Mr Madan Mitra, the state transport minister. At Mr. Mitra’s instigation, the TMC goon squad physically attacked the APDR activists, encouraged by the police. Eventually, the police arrested six APDR members, including Ms. Rangta Munshi, the assistant secretary of the organisation. This attack and arrests seem to be in line with the draconian and illegal ban declared by the state government on all protests regarding the Nonadanga eviction issue.
Incidentally, the seven anti-eviction arrestees were not produced in court today as scheduled. They were sent to 14 days jail custody in absentia. While there is no shred of evidence to corroborate the accusations against them, the state is using the time-tested trick of crying ‘Maoist’ to distract attention from the substantive issues and to subvert the due process of law. It has also been reported that the state government is trying to implicate two of the activists on old cases pertaining to the Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement. This is doubly shocking, given that the Nandigram movement was one of the crucial stepping stones in Mamata Banerjee and her party’s journey to power.
The Nonadanga slum demolition in Kolkata and its aftermath has revealed the true colours of the present government in West Bengal. After brutally evicting hundreds of families belonging to the poorest sections of society in order to hand the land over to real estate barons, the government is now going after anti-eviction activists with a chilling single-minded focus.
CDRO notes with concern the worsening democratic rights situation in West Bengal, where dissent in all form is under attack in West Bengal, not just by assaults and arrests, but also through illegal crack-downs on strikes and the censoring of newspapers in government-aided public libraries.
CDRO demands:
• The immediate and unconditional release of all arrested activists and the withdrawal of false charges against them
• That the Nonadanga eviction drive be stopped and the demolished slum be rebuilt with proper facilities in the same spot
• That the guilty Kolkata Police officials and TMC goons be prosecuted
•An independent / judicial enquiry be initiated against the minister, Mr Madan Mitra, regarding his role in the assault on democratic rights activists and criminal proceedings started against him
•That the fundamental right of the people to dissent, protest and assembly must be respected, restored and guaranteed by the state government
Asish Gupta & Kranthi Chaitanya
Member Organizations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal), Bandi Mukti committee (West Bengal), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Mumbai), Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur), Human Rights Forum (HRF, Andhra), Lokshahi Hak Sangathana (LHS, Maharashtra), Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam), Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR, Andhra), Peoples Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir), Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka) , Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Chhattisgarh, PUCL Jharkhand, PUCL Nagpur, PUCL Rajasthan,PUCL Tamilnadu, Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi), Peoples Union for Human Rights (PUHR, Haryana), Assansol Civil Rights Association (West Bengal).

Sign Protest Petition here:

The Government of West Bengal arrested democratic rights activists and detained residents of Nonadanga slum in Kolkata on 8 April 2012. They were engaged in a peaceful sit-in demonstration, demanding rehabilitation of hundreds of residents evicted from the slum on 30 March 2012. This is shameful behaviour for a purportedly pro-poor government. The state's response to these peaceful protests has been systematically repressive, progressively sinister and undemocratic. for more detailed coverage.

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