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Kunal Deb

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Update [01 Apr 2003|08:00pm]
The charges against Kunal have not been dropped. A chargesheet has yet to be produced.

The good news is that he no longer has to travel to Suri twice a month to check in with the police.

Unfortunately, he is still forbidden contact with the villages with which Uthnau works. This has been a great source of grief to him.
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Update: Apologies [01 Apr 2003|03:09pm]
My apologies for not updating sooner. The charges against Kunal have not been dropped. I will be updating information in the next couple of days.
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Friends indeed! [24 May 2002|03:43pm]
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. Read more...Collapse )
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Update: Deputation [18 May 2002|06:06pm]
More news from Debal

Yesterday, the deputation went well. About 250 tribal villagers participated; some with bows, arrows and belligerent slogans. One of the slogans was "Whose pocket are you in, the police?" The most frequent slogans were "Uthnau's work will never stop" and "Collusion of the police with the quarry mafia cannot stop Kunal". The demonstration seems to have scared the SP and district Land Revenue Officer away from their offices.

Nevertheless, we succeeded in submitting all the deputations and demands to the DM and SP's offices. Our demands included having all charges against all social activists dropped, and the closing of all illegal quarries. Read more...Collapse )
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Update: Kunal's release [16 May 2002|05:52pm]
News from Debal

Kunal was ordered to see the Investigating Officer (IO) "thrice a week".
The IO is Deputy Superintendent of Police (District Enforcement Branch), who sits at Suri. This means that Kunal must travel from Kolkata by train to Sainthia (4 hr), and then take a bus to Suri bus stand (40 min), and then walk (10 min) to the DSP’s office to report – thrice a week – until further order. (I was told that no petition for relief was permissible until after at least a month.)

Obtaining sureties for Rs. 20000 was the next problem, but my lawyer assured me he would get one, provided I was prepared to pay him a large proportion of the bail – a proposition to which I had no option but to agree. I was able to collect about Rs. 15000, thanks to my great
friend Roberto, and called up all friends who were prepared to accompany me to receive Kunal.Read more...Collapse )
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Update: 13th May, 2002 Bail granted! [13 May 2002|03:01pm]
Good news from Debal

Here is my report of the bail hearing today. It was a very joyful and utterly disappointing day for me. At today's hearing, Mr. Sekhar Basu, our advocate, pointed out to the judge that the IPS 164 (statement of complainant before the Sub-Divisional Judiciary Magistrate to confirm the FIR) was made AFTER the bail petitions had been repeatedly rejected.

He argued that this 164, which was appended to the Case Diary of the police, clearly revealed the motive of the police to ensure that Kunal remained in jail custody. Furthermore, if the complaint were true, it was pererogatory for the police to make the 164 even AFTER the High Court had rejected Kunal's bail.

The judge was convinced, and granted bail. I was only to collect the certified copy of the order, which I needed to show at the jail office to release Kunal. So much for the joyous part of the day.

I made frantic phone calls to everyone to spread the news, and soon contacted some 10 people who were eager to go to Rampurhat tomorrow to get Kunal out and take him back home. I reserved tickets for 6 of them in order to ensure that they get seats in the train to Rampurhat.....

And then, when I went to the High Court at 4:30 pm to colllect the certified copies of the bail order, I came to learn that the judge had not signed the order! I was told that that was almost a rule at the High Court that the judge signed a day or two after the order was passed...

So that means that I shall have to go to the High Court tomorrow again to collect the copy of the order.... And that
means that Kunal cannot get out of jail custody until the day after tomorrow.

This was, I felt, a case of violation of Kunal's constituional right to liberty. I had no other option but to call all the people I had previously called to inform them that Kunal was not getting released tomorrow.

Hope to give you more positive news tomorrow.

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Update: 17th May Suri Convention [11 May 2002|09:38am]
More news from Debal

Dear Friends,

With an exemplary travesty of justice, Kunal's bail has been refused once again. Kunal's next bail hearing will take place on Monday the 13th May at Kolkata High Court.

As was decided at the 3rd May Convention at Kolkata, a big convention will be held at Suri on Friday the 17th May. This
convention will take place at the DRDA Hall near DM's office from 12 noon to 3:30 pm.

After the convention, a team of representatives will visit the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police,
around 4 pm.

We have already printed all the handbills and posters demanding immediate release of Kunal and unconditional withdrawal of the false charges against him. We shall hand over these posters and handbills to you for distribution
at appropriate locations in your areas of work.

Most of the participants from Kolkata will return the same evening by the 5:30 train. Some (including myself) prefer to stay back 'til the next morning.

Participants are requested to gather at the Circuit House ground on the 17th morning - latest by 11 am. After tea and
snacks, we all will proceed to the DRDA Hall, near DM's Office, for the convention.

Earnestly expecting to see all of you and your colleagues at the Suri convention by 11 am at the DRDA Hall or the
Circuit House.

In solidarity,

Debal Deb

(On behalf of Citizens' Forum)
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Update: 3rd May Convention to Protest against Kunal’s Arrest [04 May 2002|04:20pm]
More from Debal

Keeping in mind that the possibility of Kunal’s release from jail custody has become more difficult after Kolkata High Court’s refusal of Kunal’s bail, a Convention was held at Mahabodhi Society auditorium on Friday the 3rd May at 4 pm. The Convention was attended by a large number of participants, including 35 tribal men and women from the Mollarpur area.

After I gave a brief description of the background of Uthnau and the details of Kunal’s arrest, Shampa Karmakar, a woman from Goria village, described how agricultural lands were being usurped by the local quarry industry, and how the villagers are being terrorized by the police and what may be called the quarry mafia.

Mongli, a teenage girl described a recent incident where the quarry owners trying to bribe her mother into yet another plot to implicate Uthnau members. This was followed by Ghasiram’s account of what exactly had happened at the trial of Hupni Kisku, the woman whose FIR has led to Kunal’s arrest. Read more...Collapse )
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Useful links [03 May 2002|01:23pm]
The following URLS were kindly posted by Swati Sircar, who maintains the Mallarpur Uthnau website.

West Bengal Environmental Status Report

Newspaper articles about the Santals that Uthnau supports.
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Update: Actions you can take [02 May 2002|09:33am]
This is an updated list of actions you can take on Kunal's behalf.

1. Sign the on-line petition</a>. Probably one of the easiest things to get other people to do.

2. "Post your opinion" on the The Times of India article Another easy thing to get others to do.

3. E-mail/write newspapers.

The Telegraph : ttcal@cal.vsnl.net.in
The Times of India: toical@indiatimes.com
The Statesman: thestatesman@vsnl.com

4. E-mail/write/call/fax the Chief Minister.

Sri Buddhadev Bhattacharya
Honorable Chief Minister
Writer's Buildings,
Kolkata 700 001

Phone: (+91)(-33) 214 5555 / 5588
Fax: (+91)(-33) 214 5480 / 240 4041 / 280 0631
Email: 6234@writerscal.gov.in

5. Contact organisations

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (New York)

Human Rights Watch

Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, Delhi chairnhrc@nic.in

Lawyers Without Borders

6. Write/fax/e-mail/call.

The Honorable Chief Justice,
The Calcutta High Court,
BBD Bag,
Kolkata 700 001

The Honorable Chief Justice
The Supreme Court
Greater Kailash-I
New Delhi 110 048

Tel. :- 6447191, 6425904, 3386371
Fax :- 91-11-3384002
Email: info@lawinc.com

Sri K.R. Narayanan,
The Honorable President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi 110 001

A letter writing guide was posted on April 4th.
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Public Hearing: 3rd May, 2002 Kolkata [01 May 2002|03:48pm]
Taken from today's press release.

Kunal Deb, a social worker, was arrested on the 2nd April 2002, based on some patently false charges. He has been refused bail, and is still held in jail custody at Rampurhat. We are convinced that he has been booked because his work in the tribal area of Mollarpur galvanized mass resistance to the different types of exploitation of local tribals - especially women and children workers - in the stone quarries and crushers in Mohammadbazar block of Birbhum. It is an irony that after having worked for years to stop the atrocities against tribals, Kunal himself has been booked under the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocitries) Act - for an alleged crime which the villagers vouch never took place.

We apprehend that such framing of false charges against activists in the State is prognosticative of a process of stifling of democracy, which must by opposed by all concerned citizens. To give voice to our concerns, and listen to the testimony of the eyewitnesses from the villages, we are calling a convention on Friday the 3rd May, 2002 at 4:15 pm at Mahabodhi Society Auditorium, Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata.

Please come.

on behalf of:

Nagarik Mancha & Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies
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Update: 30th April, 2002 - More news from Debal [30 Apr 2002|03:26pm]
1. I telephoned Mr. JR Bhagat, IG (Western Zone)
and told him of my suspicion that the CD had been changed. He tried to assure me that he had found the CD untampered and intact. From the tone of his answers to my question about his inquiry, I became suspicious of the content of his report. I remembered the wise comment of a powerful police official: “You cannot expect a police official to report against his colleagues.” So I have dropped the idea of seeing or using his report.

2. Mr. Nabo Dutta of Nagarik Mancha suggested that it’s time we go on the offensive. Now that nothing else could be expected from the police, we should begin condemning the police and the administration. Sujato Bhadra of APDR endorsed this view. So we decided that a large public seminar would be held in Kolkata on Friday the 3rd May 4 – 7 pm. Today we have reserved the auditorium, and asked some 50 tribals, including women, to arrive from their villages.

3. One of the rare police officers with some good sense and integrity advised me to appeal or press the Chief Minister to immediately withdraw the false case and free Kunal, failing which we ought to press him to order a CID inquiry. So we are looking for an influential celebrity to take us to the CM.

4. Mother and aunt are going tomorrow to see Kunal at Rampurhat jail (euphemised as Correction House!). I tried to dissuade them because I did not want them to have the trauma of seeing Kunal in bad condition, behind the bars. After yesterday's disappointment, however, they were desperate to see Kunal. I could only warn them not to ask Kunal anything about the food quality or the living conditions in jail custody.

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Update: Bail denied again [29 Apr 2002|06:06pm]
Today's news from Debal
Dear friends,

1. The bail hearing at Calcutta High Court was moved today, the 29th April. To our utter dismay and disappointment, the bail was refused again, because the judge chose to go by nothing but the Case Diary (CD) of the police.

The first surprise came when the Public Prosecutor presented a CD that consisted of a report of police investigation that was in perfect conformity with the FIR. We had earlier surmised from the Assistant Public Prosecutor’s presentation at the Additional District Judge’s
court on the 20th April, that the CD had differed from the FIR: that there was no nude parade. In fact the APP proclaimed this discrepancy in the open court at the ADJ
hearing. So we all had counted on the CD. Read more...Collapse )
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Update: Bail Hearing Monday, 29th April [28 Apr 2002|09:54am]
More news from Debal.

1. Some days ago, I spoke to Sri Binay Krishna Konar and Sri Biman Basu, elder leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) at the party headquarters in Kolkata. They gave me a patient hearing. Since then, local leaders of CPI(M) at Mollarpur have given public speeches against the local illegal quarry and crusher owners a few days ago. The current stance of the party's local committee is to oppose any illegal operation of quarries and crushers.

2. Two days ago, the Star News showed a short documentary on the illegal stone quarries and crushers in Mollarpur area - in the area of operation of Uthnau. The film interviwed tribal workers and a few government officials, and showed the government apathy toward the illegal tribal land transfer, continuing child labor and absolute negligence of health and environmental safety of workers in the crushers and quarries. Read more...Collapse )
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Article: Times of India [26 Apr 2002|04:39pm]
Santhal abuse in Birbhum quarries


KOLKATA: The arrest of an activist, Kunal Deb, last month has caused a ripple in the Bolpur region of Birbhum district. Read more...
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Update: Next bail hearing Monday, 29th April [25 Apr 2002|11:22pm]
The latest news from Debal.

1. I signed the affidavit at the Calcutta High Court this morning (25th), and the petition for Kunal's bail has been submitted. The hearing will be held on Monday the 29th - despite all my wishes and efforts to make it tomorrow, the 26th. Read more...Collapse )
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On-line Petition for Kunal: Please sign [23 Apr 2002|09:49am]
Swati Sircar created this petition on behalf of Kunal. This will be presented to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Sri Buddhadev Bhattacharya. If you haven't yet had time to write a letter (April 4th and 5th posts), or e-mail (April 5th and 19th), then signing the on-line petition is a good stopgap, and a painless process.

Those who are far from Kolkata can use this (http://www.petitiononline.com/uthnau/) to show your support. So far 67 signatures have been collected.
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Summary [22 Apr 2002|06:40pm]
Considering that the amount of information about Kunal's case might be daunting for new readers, here is a summary.


1. After his completion of a post-graduate in economics from Calcutta University in 1995, Kunal Deb visited the stone quarry areas in Birbhum district with a view to identifying a prospective research problem and a field site for his Ph.D. degree. This visit gave Kunal a glimpse of the process of erosion of the local tribal culture and economy: illegal transfer of tribal land, conversion of agricultural land into stone quarries, exploitation of tribal women and children in the quarries and crushers, prevalence of respiratory diseases from the dust pollution, injuries to people from unlicensed dynamite blasting in quarries close to human habitation, and so on. Read more...Collapse )
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Update: 22 April 2002 - Signature Campaign [22 Apr 2002|06:17pm]
On April 11th, Debal organised a signature campaign, and collected the signatures of about two dozen Kolkata celebrities - artists, film makers, writers, dramatists, scientists and educators.

They appealed to the State Chief Minister to take immediate steps to release Kunal from jail custody and drop the false charges made against him. Read more...Collapse )
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A story that changed tribal lives [22 Apr 2002|05:06pm]
This story was printed in the Times of India on the 10th of June, 2001.
A story that changed tribal lives
Mohua Chatterjee

The sexually exploited Churki Soren, 20, a daily wage labourer at the quarries, became a full-time sex worker and is suffering from STD.

School teacher Baburji Kisku's brother was crushed to death in a stone crusher. The family received no compensation.

Babulal Tutu of Habra Pahari village died when a boulder fell on him after a blasting operation.

NEW DELHI: In search of a story on child labour and exploitation of tribals as sex-workers, freelance journalist Kunal Deb reached Mallarpur, 50 km from Santiniketan, in 1993, soon after he got his MSc degree in economics from Calcutta University. It was also the time Deb had dissociated himself from extreme Left politics. Says he: ``The disenchantment created an ideological vacuum but my political orientation kept me from a government job. Then I saw the exploitation of tribal labourers, the health hazards they were facing and the ecological damage that was taking place in Mallarpur.'' Read more...Collapse )
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