Gross Violation of Human Rights of Students and Youth in West Bengal

A delegation comprising of Brinda Karat, Mariam  Dhawale (AIDWA general secretary), PK Sreemati (treasurer, MP, Lok Sabha), Sudha Sundarararman and S Punyavathi (vice-presidents), Kirti Singh (legal convenor) and Asha Sharma (JMS, general secretary) met the chairperson of  National Human Rights Commission HL Dattu on March 20 and appraised him of the tremendous repression and atrocities committed by the West Bengal Police and state government on the students and youth. The students and youth were protesting against the malpractices in the appointment of primary teachers. A number of arrested students were girls. All these girls were taken to the Alipore Women’s Reformatory where they were made to strip completely and their bodies were groped. The filthiest sexist and abusive language was used by the jail authorities.

The AIDWA strongly condemned these atrocities and has demanded action against the concerned authorities. The text of the memorandum submitted by the AIDWA to the NHRC chairperson is published below.

WE wish to bring to your notice a serious case of abuse, persecution and humiliation by the West Bengal police of four young girl students and youth from the Students’ Federation of India and Democratic Youth Federation of India at Kolkata, West Bengal on March 10, 2017.

Madhuja Sen Roy, Ahana Ganguli, Rupsa Saha and Ananya Niyogi are student and youth activists. They were arrested by the police under the orders of the West Bengal government along with many others on March 9. They were participating in a protest march against the irregularities and corruption in the appointments of school teachers in primary schools in West Bengal. The massive scam exposed the favouritism shown by the state government. Many eligible candidates who should have got the appointments were denied the same. This has led to a tremendous unrest amongst the student and youth community.  

Many students, including girls were brutally beaten by the police and some of them had to be hospitalised. The four young women who were arrested were locked up in the police station. The next day they were remanded to magisterial custody until March 14. The repression unleashed on the protesting students and youth by the police reflected their utter intolerance to any dissent or protest against corruption. But much worse was to follow.

The four were taken to the jail at the Alipore Women’s Reformatory. Instead of being treated as political activists, they were subjected to illegal, custodial torture. They were taken to the “searching" room. Here they were stripped and "searched" which consisted of highly objectionable groping of their bodies. One of the young women in her menstrual cycle at the time, was made to take off her sanitary pad, forced to go down on all fours and "searched". All through this inhuman torture, they were subjected to the filthiest sexist abuse by the women police personnel. The groping and abuse was repeated on March 14. The girls have been deeply traumatised by this horrific experience.

The women personnel responsible made it clear that they were acting "on orders from above."

The government, police and jail personnel are guilty of blatant violation of all standards and norms of treating those in custody, particularly women prisoners. It becomes all the more reprehensible when the young women are idealistic student activists fighting for a just peoples’ cause. This atrocious treatment meted out to the students and youth in West Bengal is against all democratic norms of our country. Human rights violations have been increasing at an alarming rate in West Bengal. 

We demand an urgent enquiry into the matter and immediate punishment of the personnel who indulged in these blatant torture and abuse of power.

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