Free Kunal Deb (Community Administrator) (free_kunal) wrote in kunal,
Free Kunal Deb (Community Administrator)

Friends indeed!

These three days were the hottest days in a decade - over 44 degrees celsius at Suri, and we were visiting Suri DSP's office to comply with Kunal's bail condition. Kunal and I returned after our visit to the IO at Suri.

Over these three days, the IO warned Kunal repeatedly that he must not visit Mollarpur or Goria (where Uthnau field office is located) in the near future. We were given to understand that Kunal might again be under arrest in the pretext of "disturbing peace" in the area if he were to visit Goria. "Remember that your bail is conditional", he said.

This morning, after a shower and snacks at our Barackpore home, Kunal proceeded to hold a meeting organised by Jana Samhati Kendra (JSK) at Badu (about 15 km from Barrackpore). Anuradha Talwar, Swapan Ganguly and other friends wanted to discuss the modus operandi of Uthnau's work. Kunal is keen to talk to them, as they are the only friends who offered help with Uthnau's work in his absence from the villages during this critical period.

Anuradha, Swapan and friends at JSK and Paschim Banga Khet Majur Samiti are in fact the only friends who are helping Uthnau in running its programs with their physical presence in situ and technical advice.


I suppose I take this opportunity to mention other friends as well who have extended their valuable support and made us feel proud of their friendship. I cannot exhaust all these friends' names, so I confine myself to mentioning here only the people who gave or offered me the most indispensable services.

Samantak Das, Reader of English at Viswa Bharati University, worked many a night to prepare the draft of the background information that is posted in this LJ. He undertook much trouble to take me to several places on his motor bike - not just to show his superb riding skill. He even drove his mo-bike all the way from Bolpur to Durgapur and back just to save my time and energy to visit the Inspector General of Police (Western Range) when I needed to see him. Sujata, his wife, gave us both her affectionate support, and gave me excellent hospitality whenever I raided their house at Santiniketan.

Ms. Amrita Sengupta, a staff member with Pratichi Trust, was down with measles when Kunal was in jail. Despite her illness, she gave me excellent contacts to the electronic media, and soon after her recovery, spent much of her time in contacting people, and earned a bad name at her own organisation for neglecting her office duties.

Ms. Anchita Ghatak of ActionAid India, Kolkata Office, spent hours giving me wise advice, encouraging me to take certain steps and contacting key people.

Ms. Swati Sircar, a mathematics scholar of Washington University, Seattle, spent tens of dollars almost every night to ring me to know every detail of the progress of the litigation against Kunal. Apart from creating the On-line Petition (posted in this LJ) and communicating to a hundred people, she has tried her best to preach to me about my health by remote telephonic control, and mercilessly cut down my right to thank her.

Kajal Majumdar, my old childhood friend, has been with me all the time, and has lent me his own mobile telephone, which I am still using. He has mooched his office several times, accompanied me to different places, and continues to give me profound emotional support.

Dr. Mita Dutta has been by me in all my work and has been running all my errands in Kunal's connection. She has been silently carrying out all the work I have assigned her, and is also visiting the Uthnau medical camp two days a month. Her love and emotional support have sustained me in those painful days.

Mr. Dilip Banerjee, appeared at the High Court hearings, and gave me much valuable advice as to legal matters.

Ms. Sutapa Chakraborty of Human Rights Law Network gave me much time and kind advice regarding different legal steps for me to take - for instance, to take time before moving the High Court for Kunal's bail.

Mr. Nabo Dutta of Nagarik Mancha has been my key mentor in all the legal measures and proceedings. He, and Mr. Sujato Bhadra of APDR, have been all ears to my midnight telephone calls of distress, and have always been ready with their wise and compassionate advice.

Prof. Subhendu Dasgupta of South and South Eastern Asian Studies, Calcutta University, met with editors of newspapers in person when the initial news about Kunal's arrest appeared to have suppressed the truth. He gave personal statements to the press vouching for the credibility of Uthnau's work.

Prof. Parimal Ghosh of South and South Eastern Asian Studies, Calcutta University, sent me an email expressing concern immediately after Kunal's arrest had been reported, and informed me of the fact that he had had telephonic conversation with Kunal on the 20th February 2002, the day he was alleged in the false FIR to be in Birbhum.

Prof. Meher Engineer of Bose Institute never met Kunal, but felt so much distressed over his arrest that he spent days trying to pull strings to get him out on bail. He continues to give me and my mother periodic telephone calls to strenghten our spirits.

Mr. Samar Bagchi of NAPM was emotionally upset when he saw me in distress - as much as when he heard about Kunal's arrest, and contacted numerous people to make an appointment with the Chief Minister - albeit with no success.

Dr. Asish K Ghosh of Centre for Environment and Development, dropped much of his extremely busy schedule to periodically contact me for the latest news about Kunal, and introduced me to various key people who proved extremely helpful. Through his effort, I am fortunate enough to have met with two genuine gentlemen in the police department who gave me patient hearing and useful suggestions. I refrain from mentioning their names here, for obvious reasons.

Ms. Mahasweta Devi, writer-activist, wrote an acerbic article in the Bengali daily "Aajkaal" immediately after Kunal's arrest, denouncing the reign of the stone quarry mafia in Birbhum district, and in support of Uthnau's activity against this reign. Her article spread the news of Kunal's arrest like wildfire, and elicited support from differet quarters.

Mr. Satyabrata Roy Bardhan of Ekta Ecological Foundation took Kunal's issue as his familial matter, and wrote a fiery letter to the editor of "Aajkaal", pointing out that if Kunal's arrest does not elicit protest, many a Kunal's voice will be throttled by vested interests. He also wrote a perceptive article in "Aneek", a leftist periodical, and a letter to the editor of Ganashakti (the last is yet unpublished).

Mr. Ajijul Haq, writer-political activist who himself suffered years of custodial torture without trial, felt it was his personal duty and responsibility to stand for Kunal, and addressed the citizens' convention at Kolkata. Ms. Joya Mitra, activist-writer, also addressed the convention from a similar conviction, although neither knew Kunal and Uthnau.

Dr. Roberto Imperiali of Rome used to call me almost every day after he learned from my email about Kunal's arrest, and organised a campaign to write to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, demanding Kunal's release. He also approached Amnesty Internal, and sent me a large sum of money to meet the legal expenses I was baffled with.

Martyn Brown, my long-time friend and philosopher, and an elder brother to both Kunal and me, extended all kind of support whenever I needed : printouts, emails, photographs of Kolkata convention and tribal's demonstration in Rampurhat and Suri. And of course, tried his best to keep me from sending my money as long as he was around or along with me.

David Rowe, our musician and painter friend from Australia galvanised a campaign in Australia which led to a shower of letters to Amnsesty International, London.

Tapas Moitra, our brotherly neighbour, helped me in planning and organising the schedule of Kolkata convention, and collected some money as contribution from his organisation, All West Bengal Sales Representatives Association.

Numerous others have spent hours and hours of their valuable time in giving me support, not unsolicited advice and encouragement. I cannot belittle any of their friendship by mere thanksgiving.

The order of appearance of these names should by no means reflect my preference or bias to any.

I continue to count on your support. I am fortunate and proud to have you as my friends indeed.

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