Dec. 13: Five students — all members of the Bandimukti Committee that is demanding the release of political detainees — were arrested in front of the office of the West Midnapore superintendent of police today.
The arrests, apparently made after the students insisted on a meeting with police superintendent K.C. Meena, mark a reversal in the state’s policy of not arresting any student not directly associated with a terrorist organisation.
Meena said the students were arrested for “provoking villagers against the government and police. They were campaigning for the MCC and the PW”.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s signal to police not to net anyone on the basis of ideological leaning was followed immediately by the release of Rajabazar Science College lecturer Kaushik Ganguly and Bidhannagar College student Shampa Dasgupta. While Ganguly was picked up from his Dum Dum residence, Dasgupta was arrested from Murshidabad where she had gone on a political assignment.
The five arrested today claimed they are students of Jadavpur University and a college in New Barrackpore. Their names are Sangeeta Ray, Jayanta Chakraborty, Benoy Bhattacharya, Projit Ghosh and Diptaneel Ray.
Police arrested them soon after they left their impromptu sit-in in front of Meena’s office to make a call to leaders in Calcutta.“We have been going around villages in West Midnapore collecting signatures for the immediate release of all political prisoners in the state and seeking donations,” Sangeeta and Diptaneel said before their arrest.
They alleged that policemen tailed them wherever they went, forcing them to seek an audience with Meena. “We have not been allowed to campaign freely,” Diptaneel said. “Whenever we protested, we were told they were there for our security.”
The students today came to meet Meena but were told that he was “busy in a meeting”. They squatted in front of his office and were picked up when they left to make a call.
Officials said leaflets recovered from them exhorted villagers to demand the release of all political prisoners as the state was “deliberately ignoring” the Supreme Court’s 11-point charter. The leaflets claimed that the chief minister was behaving like Siddhartha Shankar Ray.