Our crisis - Need your help
We have already discussed the issue of Mr. Gopen Sharma and his implication in criminal charges. As it was decided during many interactions that an overall effort would be given to ensure his release and legally address his false implication; I am providing details on the case herewith. I am thankful to Forum Asia, Frontline Defenders, OMCT, AHRC, FIDH and Human Rights Defenders – Alert- India for taking his cause and publishing urgent appeals, but all these efforts were not suffice for evasion of arrest and now, Mr. Sharma is in Bahrampur Central Correctional Home (Prison) after surrendering before the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court on 19.8.2013. I am attaching the present status of the case and also refurnishing details on Mr. Gopen Sharma.
In this given situation, I on behalf of MASUM, request all of you for all possible helps, I hope and expect few words from you on future planning to address the issue of Mr. Gopen Sharma; a shameful example of machination of perpetrators against a human rights defender of repute. MASUM is primarily working at Indo- Bangladesh bordering district of Murshidabad on the issue of continuous violence by police and posted BSF personnel, in this regard we have hundreds of complaints pending before the NHRC and related authorities, the agencies; police and BSF is trying to maim our voice and in this connection implicated Gopen Sharma in false case and in other hand our another human rights monitor of Murshidabad being harassed and tortured. The unholy nexus of police- BSF- cross border smugglers trying to gauge the every human rights voices and our work is in jeopardy. Both the cases are with NHRC but desired results are not in place. In between we have spent a good portion of our resources for Gopen Sharma’s legal expenses and relocation and much have to spend in near future. This two pronged crisis make our activities difficult at Murshidabad and forced me to ask all possible helps and assistance from friends.
A gist of Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma; HRD’s case
Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma is a District Human Rights Monitor of MASUM, a non-governmental human rights organization.
Time and again he has been implicated in false charges, imprisoned for his effort to minimize custodial torture by Police and torture and Extra Judicial Killings by Border Security Force personnel at Indo- Bangladesh bordering district of Murshidabad, West Bengal; India in September 2005. He was instrumental in organising a people’s tribunal on starvation deaths at Jalangi under Murshidabad district. Majority of the populace of that area loosed their lands in concurrent river erosion. Hundreds of victims deposed before a jury consisted by legal luminaries, reputed doctors and human rights protagonists. (http://www.masum.org.in/activities/jalangi.pdf)
Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma made concurrent fact findings on the barbarous act of custodial tortures, sexual assault and illegal arrests perpetrated by police officer Mr. Sandip Sen. In this regard the incident of custodial torture resulting death of Hayat Sekh can be referred when Mr. Sen was with Beldanga police station, custodial torture and illegal detention of Mr. Pintu Sekh and others during his tenure in Islampur police station, physical torture and illegal detention of Ms. Jamiran Bibi while Mr. Sen was with Samshergunj police station.
A false complaint has been filed before the Lalbagh Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court, under section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code vide Memo No. 1702/12, against Mr. Sharma by one Ms. Kulsura Bibi, wife of Mr. Rabiul Sekh, resident of Islampur under Islampur police station of Murshidabad district.
While, the complainant in her petition referred the date of the incident as 20.11.2012, the date of complaint was only on 3.12.2012; after nearly a fortnight. The complainant has a close proximity with the police and she has not uttered a word whether she has undergone any medical tests or opinion in between or not. The complainant Ms. Fulsura Bibi, about 35 years of age, is a resident of Islampur market at the vicinity of the local police station. Her house is stone throw away from the police station. She is a petty drug peddler (mobile peddler), sells heroine after receiving the item from Bangladesh. She started this profession after leaving her profession of prostitution due to growing age. Her first husband was a known anti- social of the area, having involvement with many criminal acts at the jurisdiction of Daulatabad police station of Murshidabad district, he left that area after some brawls with his associates. He had involvement with undergarment smuggling from Bangladesh. Her second husband was a van rickshaw puller and was arrested many a time by the Islampur police station in charges of theft and burglary. He left the place after a social pressure. Brother of the complainant lost his limb while he was making a crude bomb. The complainant has dubious and crooked record. She has to maintain a relation with local police to continue her illegal business.
The lawyer for the complainant; Mr. Maklesur Rahman has also a shady reputation. He runs his profession from the police station only and getting clients from the police station. Moreover, during the years of 1996- 1997, a girl from Daulatabad- Gangaprasad locality was working with his family as domestic help at Bhejalipara under Islampur police station. The said girl got pregnant by this advocate. As, his father was a Moulavi and teacher of that area; the families settled the issue out of court; within village level Panchayet (Salishi) and no complaint was registered over the issue. The victim girl is now leading a married life at Dayarampur village under Jalangi police station.
The fabrication of charges is beyond any doubt. Mr. Sharma has taken up the cases of human rights violation by police and Border Security Force personnel and in that course become an adversary of Mr. Sandip Sen during his tenure as Officer in Charge of Hariharpara, Beldanga, Samshergunj and Islampur police stations. Mr. Sharma was instrumental on unearthing several incidents of custodial torture including an incident of custodial sexual offence. In one such incident the said Officer in Charge faced disciplinary action after the intervention from National Human Rights Commission, India and compensation in tune of Rs. 70000 had been awarded to the victim woman; Ms. Latifa Bibi and WBHRC directed to deduct the amount from the salary of the involved police personnel including Mr. Sandip Sen. This heinous act was perpetrated when Mr. Sen was the Officer in Charge of Hariharpara police station.
Mr. Sharma has faced wraths of police and BSF in previous occasions. By implicating him in frivolous charges, his freedom of movement and untiring effort to minimize torture is being challenged by the police and authorities and in longer run his personal integrity, liberty and repute of MASUM being diminished. Fabricated charges have been slapped against Mr. Sharma in previous occasions and he spent days in the prisons. In August 2009, he was being warned with dire consequences over telephone for three consecutive days by unknown callers. He was arrested on 8th February 2007 while visiting Kaharpara Border Out Post of the Border Security Force (BSF). He was charged under sections 420/ 468/ 471 of Indian Penal Code. He spent 40 days at Lalbagh Sub Correctional Home (Prison). In February 2005 he was implicated in a false case being Jalangi Police Station Case No. 25/2005 under sections 498A/ 307/ 34 of Indian Penal Code and imprisoned with his mother but later he was honorably acquitted from the charges on 6th September 2007.
In present case, an application was made in accordance to the section 438 of Cr.P.C (anticipatory bail) but after long hearing for abnormally six months it was rejected by the District Judge- Murshidabad, we made subsequent appeal to the High Court of Calcutta but there also it was rejected on 04.07.2013. One criminal application praying for quashing of the criminal proceeding; being G.R. No. 30 of 2013 was made before the Calcutta High Court and the court heard the matter on 14.08.2013 and rejected the application on that date only. We were willing to move an application before the Supreme Court for his anticipatory bail but one of our good friend and human rights lawyer; Mr. Colin Gonsalves opined not to file it at Supreme Court and we jointly decided for quashing. Mr. Sharma surrendered before the Chief Judicial Magistrate; Murshidabad on 19.8.2013 and sent to Baharampur Correctional Home (Prison). We filed an application for his regular bail in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate; Murshidabad, which is not heard yet.
I am providing few web links on Mr. Gopen Sharma here for your reference.
21st August 2013--
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Tele-Fax - +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@...