It is no more an exaggeration to say that lawless is the norm that runs the Indian polity. There is an increasing urge in breaking the law with the connivance of the authorities, the ruling party/establishment and not the least the police force–the supposed law-keepers. From cow vigilantism, mob vigilantism to forceful imposition of brahminical Hindutva jingoism we are witnessing rampant lawlessness—a manifestation of the deepening crisis–economic as well as political–that India has been going through. The criminal abduction,indulged in by the Gujarat ATS, of Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya, a social activist, adds to the stories of such lawlessness which has been the norm all through for those who have a different world view than that shared by the powers-that-be.
A resident of Nagpur, Tushar had gone to Kolkata to meet some of his relatives. He left Kolkata for Nagpur on 7 August 2017 by Geetanjali Express (Coach A 1). He was all alone. As can be deciphered he was being followed by the Gujarat ATS and the moment he reached Nagpur, he was kidnapped by them. His mobile phone was seized. He was not allowed to contact members of his family, nor was his relatives given any intimation of his arrest.
The story gets more bizarre since then. Here is a well known person, who stays in an official address with his wife–Prof. Shoma Sen from the English Department of Nagpur University a well known women’s activist—being produced wearing a mask to sensationalize the intrigue behind his arrest as well as the identity of the arrested. The identity of Tushar as a man of words, a prolific translator, well versed in Bengali, Telugu and Hindi, gets easily conflated with the seemingly all pervading facelessness of the ideology of War on Terror!
Lawyer Susan Abraham with the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) succinctly sums up the criminality behind this act of arresting an ‘absconding person’. To quote her: “By law, the Gujarat police ought to have sent a summons to the openly known address of his residence at Nagpur to appear before the concerned court and case in Gujarat.
If the abduction was not brazen enough, what is more shocking is the case in which Bhattacharya was kidnapped by the Gujarat police. It happens to be Crime Register No I-37 of 2010 with the Kamrej police station, Surat. Bhattacharya is the 22nd person implicated in the case. All the 21 others have been released on bail. This was another reason why the modus operandi — abducting Bhattacharya — from Nagpur was totally uncalled for.”
Further, if one looks into all the sections registered in the case against all the accused, it is no less serious as everyone is slapped with Sections 120(B), 121(A), 124(A), 153(A) (B) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 38, 39 and 40 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (amended in 2004). But despite all such serious charges the fact remains that all the 21 accused in the matter have got bail.
The criminal callousness with which the police—be it Gujarat or elsewhere in India—play with the lives of people who are in active social work is further evident from the FIR filed wherein anyone and everyone can be clubbed in. Where in the world can one imagine an FIR where the Time of Arrest is shown as: “Any time till today”! The definition of the offence is much more alarming in ambit and extent as it says: “Creating of class conflict, and rousing feeling of dissatisfaction among religious minorities and tribals living in the forests by doing misleading propaganda, causing anti-national sentiments and so on.” The final nail in the coffin of accountability and fairness of procedure is the list of the names filed in the FIR as it stares at you: “Unknown members of CPI (Maoist) and others.” Little wonder that the Gujarat ATS applied their mind while producing Tushar before the court with hood!
It is further pertinent to note that when this FIR was filed in 2010 (C R No I-37 of 2010) Tushar was already an under trial prisoner lodged in Cherlapally jail, Hyderabad. What is rather amusing is that despite being accused of committing a crime when he was behind bars at time of the supposed commission of the said offence (!) Tushar, while in Cherlappally jail during 2010-2013, wrote two applications (Dated May 9, 2011 and July 22, 2011) to the court of the judicial magistrate of Khattor, under whose jurisdiction the case was lodged. He had mentioned in those applications that he should be produced in court if he was really an accused in that case. But,as we can see, the Gujarat police didn’t want him to be produced. Such production for them, as it appears from their present criminal abduction and attempt to tarnish the image of the abducted person by deliberately declaring him to be absconding and further maligning him by producing him hooded in the court, are pointers to how deeply criminalized and unaccountable the law enforcing machinery has become. And what about the judicial system, may one be allowed to ask? We shouldn’t be surprised that after all the prolonged tribulations and technicalities of the inevitable trappings of the functioning of judiciary in India, after ‘n’ number of years (as bizarre as the FIR filed in the present case) the court will say with anger and indignation that how criminal is the police in ruining the life of the general citizens of India!
The CRPP strongly condemns this illegal and criminal abduction by the Gujarat police and demand Tushar Bhattacharya be immediately released.
SECRETARY, PUBLIC RELATIONS