Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Swapan Dasgupta killed in custody the first victim of UAPA

The Kolkata based human rights organization Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) expressed concern that Swapan Dasgupta, becomes the first fatal victim of UAPA in West Bengal even before any trial, as he succumbs on February 2, 2010 at about 5am to growing illness at SSKM Hospital, Kolkata.

He was arrested under this Act on 06th October 2009 for publishing ‘Peoples March’ (in Bengali version), though the publication is still not banned. He was denied bail and detained under jail custody in appalling conditions. As he was a chronic asthma patient, distressing treatment at custody aggravated his illness. UAPA undoubtedly proves it’s cruel futurity.

MASUM said it was informed that the inquest was done by Mr. Swapan Kumar Ghosh, Additional Commissioner of Police (4), South Division, Kolkata Police under Bhowanipur Police Station Inquest number 141. MASUM secretary Kirity Roy lamented that this very act was a gross violation of criminal procedure code of India.
He alleged that the government of West Bengal purposefully violated the section 176 (1A) of Cr. P.C. where it is mandatory that in case of any custodial death, the inquiry should be made only by a judicial (Metropolitan) Magistrate.

If India proclaims to be a democratic state, he said that it is supposed to ensure the ‘right to oppose’ and curbing the voice of opposition defies the basic premise of democracy. Application of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on Maoists and some other political persons in recent past inWest Bengal manifests the tendency of defying democratic principles, he added.

MASUM said that UAPA is nothing but the latest legal weapon by the state for arresting and detaining the people with dissent voices even before a fair trial and project it as preventive detention. The draconian law includes the provisions of repealed TADA and POTA, and surpasses all erstwhile criminal laws in ruthlessness.
During the debate of UAPA at Indian parliament, Roy recalled that some of the parliamentarians opposed the law, especially those of CPI(M). However, contrary to their stance,West Bengal government, mainly ruled by the same party has been one of the frontrunners in implementing this draconian and anti-people law.

Consequently, he deplored that many persons who are otherwise ‘innocent’ have been arrested under this law. It clearly shows that though the parties differ on ideological plain, they are just different sides of same coin on the question of power structure.

He said that MASUM always stands against the violent politics, whether it is practiced by Maoists or any other political party. “We understand that, if any political or non-political citizen involves in any violent action viz. murder, rape, destroying properties etc., the existingcriminal laws are sufficient to penalize them to the highest degree. UAPA is completely uncalled for in this direction”, he added.

If one observes all social and political violence during previous 25-30 years in West Bengal, he lamented that it would be evident that CPI(M), the leading party in the government, has been most instrumental behind them. It needs to be mentioned that most of the perpetrators are roaming scot-free with administrative patronage, he pointed out.

Following the tradition of procedural violation is adding ‘feather to the flock’. Swapan Dasgupta, a detainee under UAPA has expired due to extreme inhuman treatment at jail and hospital as well. MASUM reckon his untimely death as judicial killing with utmost disregard towards law of the land, he said.

Roy said that the unfortunate incident is only an indication to the prevailing heinous criminal justice system which underlies UAPA also. Hence, he said they condemn the draconian law and demand repudiation of the same immediately.

Swapan Dasgupta expires while in UAPA custody - A Sanhati Statement

Swapan Dasgupta, editor and publisher of the Bengali edition of the political magazine People’s March passed away on 2nd February, while he was in the custody of West Bengal police. He had been arrested in October 2009 under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), for allegedly publishing Maoist literature, together with other political activists. Till date, he had not been charge-sheeted. As per the official records, People’s March is a legal publication and therefore not a banned literature as claimed by sections of mainstream press.

Swapan Dasgupta was suffering from blood cancer and according to activists in West Bengal, he was not provided with the necessary medical attention, including crucial blood transfusions, while he was in custody. He was only hospitalized in the month of January 2010 only when his condition became critical because of the lack of proper treatment. Therefore, his death is a case of utter negligence, if not a premeditated instance of systemic violence, by the state apparatus which seems determined to eliminate voices of dissent in one way or the other. Such circumstances also make this incident the first case of custodial death under the UAPA. We strongly condemn the role of the state in the death of Swapan Dasgupta and demand that the UAPA be repealed without further delay, and people arrested under UAPA be released.

Swapan Dasgupta’s body will be taken out from Peace Haven in Kolkata at 10 am on 3rd Febuary 2010. There will be a protest march at the Kolkata book fair, starting at 4.00 pm from the APDR stall, followed by a condolence/protest meet at the Mont Marte open stage from 5.45-6.45 pm.

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