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.

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. Read more...Collapse )

Update: Deputation

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 )

Update: Kunal's release

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 )

Update: 13th May, 2002 Bail granted!

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.


Update: 17th May Suri Convention

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)

Update: 3rd May Convention to Protest against Kunal’s Arrest

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 )

Update: Actions you can take

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.