Statement by (Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity

Police Forced to Stop Supporting Traffickers

Women from the Shramajivi Mahila Samity  (Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity’s sister organisation) today protested against the tacit support the police was providing to traffickers by blockading the Kakdwip police station in the Sunderbans for six hours today .At 5PM, the police gave in to the Samity’s demands. The police provided a police escort and transport to about fifty protesting women to go to the Samity office which is about 15 kms away from the Police station to break open the house owner’s lock and to re-open the Samity office. A police force of 4 policemen has also been posted at the Samity office for the security of the Samity activists. In the meantime, the police is searching for five attackers, who have now fled their homes. In addition, police action is to be taken against anyone who harasses Zareena, a trafficking victim.  A written complaint is also being submitted by the Officer in Charge to the SP, so that action is taken against three police men who tried to negotiate with the attackers, who had supported the traffickers. Details of the incident that preceded the protest are given below.

Shramajivi Mahila Samity had rescued Zarina Khatun last year from Kashmir, where she had been sold by traffickers five years ago. After the filing of a case, the traffickers fled, fearing arrest. The relatives of the traffickers (including powerful political leaders) subjected Zarina and her family to an economic boycott in order to force them to withdraw the case. Joynur Biwi, an SMS activist, then offered the Samity’s office (which is also a residence for  her and other Samity workers) at Bhutomollah Pul, Kakdwip PS, to continue their economic activities.

The house owner, Daulat Sheikh, however told Joynur to vacate the house, saying that he did not want his premises to be used to help “women of bad character”. Joynur asked for time, but on the morning of 29th August 2011, the house owner and four others assaulted her. When they tried to attack her with chains, other people who had crowded around by then rescued her. She went first to the local police camp, only to be told that she deserved the beating, because she had misbehaved by not vacating the premises.

An FIR was filed after much pressure on the Officer in Charge in the evening (Case number 354 dated 29.8.11 under sections 341,323,354,379, and 506). Later, at 7 PM, when Samity organisers went with a police party to get the house re-opened, they were shocked to find the police negotiating with the assailants instead of arresting them.

The next day, on 30th August 2011, after the Samity organised a protest at the police station, the OC of the police station finally agreed to arrest the assailants within 48 hours and to get the office opened. However when no action was taken, today (2nd September 2011) a gherao of the police station was organised.