Friday, April 13, 2012

Goons attack rights rally but cops arrest 6 activists

KOLKATA: A bunch of goons attacked a rights rally at Hazra crossing on Thursday as police stood by and watched. The activists alleged tried to resist the assault, the police sprang into action and herded them into a prison van.

Six activists were arrested for "taking out the procession without permission", but not one of the attackers was identified or nabbed. The Association for Protection of Democratic Rights - which organized the rally to protest against the arrest of seven persons during the April 9 Nonadanga agitation - alleged the attackers wereTrinamool Congress goons. Among those arrested is APDR assistant secretary Rangta Munshi.

The incident sparked outrage among the intelligentsia. Actor Koushik Sen, Trinamool MP and singer Kabir Suman and educationist Sunanda Sanyal (who used to share the stage withMamata Banerjee not so long ago) held a meeting in the evening to criticize the government.APDR had planned to march from Hazra to Alipore court. Some 30 of them gathered in front of Jatin Das Park. APDR general secretary Debaprasad Roychowdhury said: "We were preparing for the rally when the police arrived and asked us to cancel it. We tried to reason with the officers." APDR member Chandan Pramanik said that transport minister Madan Mitra visited the place and spoke to the police.

"Suddenly a group of youths loitering near the auto stand rushed towards us and pounced on Debaprasad and the others," said Munshi. Fists, blows and abuses rained down on the activists, alleged Sudipta Sen, APDR assistant secretary. APDR's Sujato Bhadra alleged that some Trinamool members assaulted the APDR activists as the police force (led by ACP, south, Tapas Bose) stood like "silent spectators". "Police did not bother to arrest the attackers but they started dragging us to the prison van and finally arrested six of us," said Pramanik. Sen, too, alleged that the attackers were Trinamool-backed hoodlums and it was a pre-planned assault. DCP (south) D P Singh said he is yet to get a complaint in this regard.

"Should they make one it will be investigated," he said. A group of intellectuals held a meeting at Bangla Academy in the evening to condemn the attack and the police action. "We are gradually losing trust on the government. It is trying to suppress democratic rights.

I condemn the attack on the rights activists. The government is seizing all rights of expression. Police are not allowing rallies and meetings," Sen said.Kabir Suman was also vocal against the eviction at Nonadanga.

"In 2006, I had joined Mamata's anti-eviction movement. I was with her in Nandigram. Now, I am once again fighting for the anti-eviction movement. But now Mamata is not with me," said Suman, who claimed that several Trinamool leaders are also against such government decisions. Former Naxalite leader Asim Chatterjee strongly criticized Mamata Banerjee.

"Mamata has become the chief minister by riding on the anti-eviction movement. Now she herself has started evicting people," said Asim. Several activists like Meeratun Nahar and Jaya Mitra joined the meeting.