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India: Statement on the arrest of respected rights activists on way to Lalgarh

by Committee For The Release of Political Prisoners , 3 July 2009

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Committee For The Release Of Political Prisoners
- 185/3, Fourth Floor, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi

Condemn the arrest of of Medha Patkar, Gopal Menon, Sujato Bhadra
and others on their way to Lalgarh!

Punish the police men who brutally assaulted filmmaker Gopal Menon!

Release Them Unconditionally!

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) strongly condemn the arrest of Medha Patkar, Sujato Bhadra, Gopal Menon and Anuradha Talwar at Bombay road on their way to Lalgarh by the West Bengal Police. They were arrested and booked under Cr PC 151 & 188.

Gopal Menon the filmmaker was specifically targeted by the vindictive police of West Bengal who brutally assaulted him with rifle butts and batons. He was beaten under the specific instructions of the Additional SP of police Pranab Kumar as per the information from several civil rights groups. After being beaten on the chest and other parts of the body he had to be admitted to the Debra Hospital near by as he started profusely vomiting. Gopal Menon had also tried to accompany another fact finding team a few days before comprising of senior trade union activists, women’s activists, lawyers and other social activists. This team also was arrested at Midnapore. May be the crime of Gopal Menon was his assertion to his right to know and document the activities of the state in supposedly bringing back ’normalcy’ in Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal.

If this is what a documentary filmmaker has to face before the lawless police and paramilitary of the CPM-led government in West Bengal then one can imagine the state of affairs of the faceless Adivasi people of Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal. No wonder why the police and the paramilitary are not allowing anyone with an independent mind to visit the area under occupation by the forces. This also brings to the fore the fear of several civil rights bodies and other independent observers that the police and paramilitary can resort to any level of barbarism in order to ’sanitise’ the area. And this also makes it clear why the central home minister P. Chidambaram does not want any civil society group or human rights bodies to visit the area!

The only way that this government can deal with the issues of life and death for the toiling masses, pertaining to the four dreaded Ds—Displacement, Destruction, Destitution and Death— are only through the baton and barrels of the police and paramilitary. Otherwise any people oriented government would have first listened to the just demands of the Adivasis of Lalgarh. The latest reports coming from independent sources also say that the paramilitary has started burning the huts and destroying the poultry of the people in Lalgarh. Their wells are being poisoned and excreta being thrown into the water bodies that are normally used for drinking purposes. All these exercise of brutality point to Salwa Judum kind of campaign being undertaken against the defiant masses of Lalgarh. Already there are reports of harassment of children, women and the old.

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) demand the immediate and unconditional release of these prominent social and civil rights activists. We demand that the Additional SP Pranab Kumar who had specifically instructed his police men to brutalise the filmmaker Gopal Menon should be booked under the law of the land for abuse of his power. Such high handed and authoritarian behaviour of senior police officers should be curbed firmly. Such police officers can only be a bane ot the society.

03.07.09

Gurcharan Singh (President)
- Amit Bhattacharyya (Secretary General)
- SAR Geelani (Vice President)
- Rona Wilson (Secretary, Public Relations)