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Attacks against Kirity Roy and human rights defenders from MASUM

Status: 
Attacked
About the situation

On 12 September 2022, the Calcutta High Court quashed a criminal charge against human rights defender Kirity Roy, which was filed against him by the West Bengal police in 2018. The criminal offense listed under Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code, relates to voluntarily obstructing public servants in discharge of their public functions. While the Court quashed this charge, Kirity Roy continues to face various charges under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 353 (assault or criminal force upon public servants), Section 427 (mischief causing damage), Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. These charges appear to be reprisals for a procession conducted on 19 July 2018 that sought accountability for human rights violations by the police and the Border Security Force against civilians living close to the India-Bangladesh border.

On 27 September 2008, at approximately 4pm, a police team comprising of three plain-clothes agents from the Kolkata Police Department entered the office of MASUM. The agents were looking for Kirity Roy who was absent from the office at that time. Consequently, the police team served a notice, under Section 91 of the Criminal Procedural Code, requesting that MASUM present documents to the police department in Lalbazar, Kolkata, in connection with Taltolla police investigation No. 134/2008.

About Kirity Roy

Kirity RoyKirity Roy is an Indian civil rights activist working in West Bengal. As secretary of a non-governmental human rights organisation based in Serampore, Hoogly, near Kolkata, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), he has been documenting alleged state atrocities, particularly in Indo-Bangladesh bordering districts of West Bengal. In 2003, Kirity was elected to the board of Amnesty International India.

Kirity Roy is known for fighting against alleged state atrocities, where victims —often among India's poorest citizens— report extrajudicial killings, custodial death, rape, mysterious disappearances, and police torture. Kirity documented 118 cases in 2006, 469 in 2007, 210 in 2008.

25 November 2022
Attacks against Kirity Roy and human rights defenders from MASUM

On 12 September 2022, the Calcutta High Court quashed a criminal charge against human rights defender Kirity Roy, which was filed against him by the West Bengal police in 2018. The criminal offense listed under Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code, relates to voluntarily obstructing public servants in discharge of their public functions. While the Court quashed this charge, Kirity Roy continues to face various charges under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 353 (assault or criminal force upon public servants), Section 427 (mischief causing damage), Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. These charges appear to be reprisals for a procession conducted on 19 July 2018 that sought accountability for human rights violations by the police and the Border Security Force against civilians living close to the India-Bangladesh border.

Kirity Roy is a human rights defender working in West Bengal, India. He is the secretary of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) a human rights organization focused on documentation, reporting and advocacy on human rights violations committed by state security forces, especially the Border Security Force operating along the India-Bangladesh Border. MASUM has been a strong source of support for victims of violations, especially poor communities in the border districts of West Bengal in their struggle for redress and accountability.

As a result of their work, MASUM and its staff have suffered reprisals including legal persecution, police harassment including false complaints, threats, and physical attacks. MASUM’s district monitors and volunteers who work in bordering villages bear the brunt of such threats, many of whom are unable to return home or continue their work due to fears for their safety. On 10 December 2019, police authorities from the Hastings Police Station of Kolkata stopped the annual Human Rights Day event observed by MASUM. The police objected to the use of microphone even though MASUM had sent an email to them asking for the necessary permissions. Two events being conducted close to the venue chosen by MASUM had used microphones at the time, but received no objection from the police, giving cause to believe that MASUM’s event was deliberately targeted by the police.

On 23 August 2019, Atul Basak, a human rights defender associated with MASUM, was threatened by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel to withdraw a complaint filed by him and some villagers against the arbitrary restrictions imposed by the BSF in their village, located in the Cooch Behar District of West Bengal. Since the filing of the complaint to the Office of the District Magistrate of Cooch Behar on 24 April 2019, Atul Basak has faced repeated threats and harassment by the BSF where they forced him to sign on a blank paper and threatened to implicate him and his family under false criminal charges.

On 19 June 2019, the BSF filed a false criminal case relating to the possession of illegal arms against human rights defender and farmer, Ekramul Haque, for asking the BSF personnel to speed up construction work in his village. Ekramul Haque is a grassroots activist associated with the human rights activities conducted by MASUM. Ekramul Haque was previously physically assaulted and threatened for raising his voice against the BSF.

Similarly on 27 May 2019, the BSF filed a false criminal case related to cattle smuggling against human rights defender and community leader Hazrat Ali, who has been campaigning against human rights violations committed by the BSF in his village, in Cooch Behar district. Hazrat Ali had spoken to the local media about two incidents of alleged extrajudicial executions by the BSF in the area. Since the filing of the false criminal case against him, Hazrat Ali repeatedly tried to approach the police and other authorities to dispute the claims of the BSF, but was ignored by the authorities.

Front Line Defenders has previously issued appeals and statements in support of MASUM and the human rights defenders associated with them, and has repeatedly urged the relevant authorities in India to cease reprisals against human rights defenders. Front Line Defenders believes that human rights defenders at MASUM are being targeted as a result of their legitimate work in defence of human rights, in particular their work to expose human rights violations of the BSF, the police, and other state agents. It is also concerned about the systemic pattern of reprisals and attacks against MASUM in order to suppress the voices of dissent to safeguard the rights and dignity of citizens living close to the India-Bangladesh border. It therefore urges the relevant authorities in India to immediately cease the reprisals against human rights defenders associated with MASUM and ensure that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals.

 

6 October 2008
Judicial harassment of human rights defender Kirity Roy

Front Line is seriously concerned about the judicial harassment of Kirity Roy, the former president of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a non-governmental human rights organisation based in Howrah, Kolkata, West Bengal. On 27 September 2008, police entered the offices of MASUM searching for Kirity Roy and affidavits from the People's Tribunal on Torture (PTT), which is organised by the National Project on Preventing Torture in India (NPPTI).

On 27 September 2008, at approximately 4pm, a police team comprising of three plain-clothes agents from the Kolkata Police Department entered the office of MASUM. The agents were looking for Kirity Roy who was absent from the office at that time. Consequently, the police team served a notice, under Section 91 of the Criminal Procedural Code, requesting that MASUM present documents to the police department in Lalbazar, Kolkata, in connection with Taltolla police investigation No. 134/2008.

The documents relate to three reported victims of police torture who had sworn affidavits for the People's Tribunal on Torture (PTT) organised by the National Project on Preventing Torture in India (NPPTI). The NPPTI provides the framework for the PTT which aims to identify and bring about justice in cases of police torture. The PTTs were held around India between 2 April and 13 August 2008, and will be followed by a national PTT in Delhi in October.

On 9 June 2008 the Kolkata Police had initiated a case against Kirity Roy, the then president of MASUM and others for organising the People's Tribunal on Torture. On 12 June the police raided the office of MASUM, searching it for several hours. They seized a number of documents from the office. On 18 September 2008, MASUM had filed a Writ Petition (25022(W)/ 2008 Kirity Roy VS State of West Bengal & others) before the Honorable High Court, Kolkata, challenging the authority of the police, the Commissioner of Police of Kolkata and the State of West Bengal to institute the case against Kirity Roy.

Front Line believes that Kirity Roy and MASUM have been targeted as a result of their legitimate work in defence of human rights in particular their work to expose police torture. Front Line expresses its concern for the physical and psychological integrity of Kirity Roy and other members of MASUM.