India: Harassment and intimidation against MASUM members
February 11, 2019, 8:23 am
According to the information received, on February 2, 2019, Chapra police registered a criminal case against Mr. Kirity Roy, MASUM Secretary, MASUM members Mr. Ramen Moitra, Mr. Subhrangshu Bhaduri and Mr. Sujoy Singh Roy, and the driver of a car hired by MASUM, Mr. Ganesh Sarkar, under Sections 186 (“obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions”), 323 (“punishment for voluntarily causing hurt”), 345 (“wrongful confinement of person for whose liberation writ has been issued”), 506 (“punishment for criminal intimidation”) and 509 (“word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman”) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was filed after the defenders had taken part in a meeting earlier that day with more than 150 villagers who reported acts of torture allegedly committed on a daily basis by members of the ‘A’ Company of the 81st Battalion of the BSF, which is posted at the Mahakhola Border Outpost (BOP) under the jurisdiction of the Chapra police station in Nadia district.
At around 2.15 pm, shortly after the meeting had ended, MASUM members noticed approximately 100 villagers waiting beside the road for the border gates to be opened at 3pm by the BSF so that they could return home. Mr. Roy approached BSF Head Constable Mr. Jay Bhagwan, who was guarding gate number 10 of the Mahakhola BOP and asked him to open the gate. The latter refused and asked Mr. Roy to show his identity card. Another BSF officer, Mr. Sanjay, also refused to open the gate, and both men subsequently tried to confiscate the mobile phones of the MASUM members present at the scene.
After a short period of time, the Commander of the ‘A’ Company, Mr. S N Sharma, arrived and started pushing and shoving the people who had gathered there. He told MASUM members that they had come to the village “to create disorder”, before he and another BSF Company Commander, Mr. Rajveer Singh, started taking video footage of the scene. Company Commander Mr. S N Sharma then called the Chapra police station of Nadia district and complained to the Officer-in-Charge that human rights activists were trying to instigate villagers to commit violence and unrest. Mr. Rajveer Singh subsequently wrote down the names of the four MASUM members who were present, took photographs of their identity cards, and told them that they should have asked for permission to come to the village.
Around 3pm, MASUM members were allowed to leave, after Mr. S N Sharma told them that if they were to come back again without their permission, they would “face dire consequences”. At around 4.30pm, police officers from the Chapra police station came and collected information from villagers.
Two hours later, Messrs. Kirity Roy, Ramen Moitra, Subhrangshu Bhaduri, Sujoy Singh Roy and Ganesh Sarkar were informed that Chapra police had registered a criminal case against them after BSF Commander Mr. S.N Sharma lodged a written complaint to the Chapra police station.
On February 3, 2019, Mr. Roy filed a written complaint with the Officer-in-Charge of Chapra police station to denounce the BSF’s behaviour.