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Rights panel terms Kamtapuri arrests illegal

Siliguri, Oct. 11: The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has termed the arrests made by police at Taranbandha and Phansidewa during Operation Kamtapuri three years ago illegal and directed the state government to pay compensation to each of them.

A copy of the recommendations, signed by chairperson Justice Mukul Gopal Mukherji and members Prof. Amit Sen, Md Nessar Khan and . Krishnamurti, has been sent to Banchiya Singha, father of the arrested girl, Sujala Singha.

On the night of November 27, 2000, police had raided Taranbandha village to arrest three Kamtapur Liberation Organisation activists — Subodh Singha, Gouranga Barman and Bipul Roy — wanted in connection with case No. 37/2000, dated March 24, 2000, under Phansidewa police station.

The police team, led by officer-in-charge of Phansidewa police station Sudhanya Bhattacharya, could only find Gouranga and arrested him. The police also arrested Subodh’s brother Kailash and Bipul’s brother Surya. Kailash’s sister Sujala was also arrested for allegedly trying to prevent her brother’s arrest.

After the incident, villagers gathered in hundreds to protest Sujala’s arrest and attacked the police. The police had to open fire in which two persons, Manu Roy and Sahalal Singha, were killed.

In its 17-page recommendation, the rights panel has said that the arrests of Kailash, Surya and Sujala were “illegal and uncalled for, apparently done out of frustration when the police failed to arrest their brothers, Subodh Singha and Bipul Roy”.

“Police could not give any satisfactory reason for their arrest except the fact that they were brothers of Subodh Singha and Bipul Roy... It is undisputed that no case was pending against Kailash Singha and Surya Roy. So their arrest by the police cannot be legally justified.... When the arrest of Kailash Singha was illegal, the peaceful protest and resistance by Sujala Singha against the arrest of her brother can in no way be termed as illegal,” the commission said.

The panel has made the following recommendations:

The government should pay an interim compensation of Rs 3,000 to each of the three illegally arrested persons and the same to be realised from the pay of sub-inspector Sudhanya Bhattacharya, officer-in-charge of Phansidewa police station.

A departmental proceeding to be initiated against Bhattacharya

The state government should intimate the commission about the action taken or proposed to be taken within a period of two months

Hailing the commission’s recommendations, Kamtapur People’s Party founder-president Atul Roy said: “We are happy that the commission has brought the truth out and has boosted our morale.”

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