Appeal Issued by Little Magazines to Governor concerning Kanishka Chowdhury and others

The following appeal has been launched by a group of little magazines, who saw the arrest of Kanishka Chowdhury, rightly, as a serious attack on the freedom of expresson, especially of the non-corporate sections of the media. Though on 28 July the Court granted bail to Chowdhury and his two co-accused, the rest of the appeal still stands. We publish this in the interest of democracy, and urge other little magazines to join this drive. Every sector of civil society should stand up for democratic rights, instead of assuming that the struggle for democratic rights is the prerogative of organisations particularly identified as democratic rights/human rights groups.

Radical Socialist

Appeal Issued by Little Magazines to Governor

Mr A K Narayanan,
Governor of West Bengal.

Respected Sir,

We, on behalf of the little magazines of West Bengal would like to appeal to you as follows:
Recently, one of the little magazine activists from Kolkata, Kanishka Chowdhury has been arrested on charges of being at Lalgarh along with two other intellectuals on 15/06/2010. The journalists held with them
were later released but the trio was produced to court on framed-up charges. No FIR was done even two hours after their arrest thus violating the law. They were initially informed that they would be released after interrogations. No copy of the FIR was given to them or their advocate even while being produced at the court for the second time. Neither were they handed over a list of articles seized from their bag. Even Kanishka Chowdhury’s wife was not allowed in the court room under the pretext of “no space” while the hearing was on.

These socially conscious intellectuals accompanied some New Delhi based journalists to Lalgarh in order to be aware of and witness the condition after a year of operation of the joint forces against the
Maoists in the Jungle Mahal area. It is pertinent to note that Kanishka Chowdhury has done similar field studies in the past for his research. He had been to Singur, Nandigram and other places on similar

The police informed the court that they have confiscated a digital camera, a small voice recorder, two ball-point pens, some writing papers and more than Rs. 4,000 worth of cash. In spite of not being
able to prove anything more, they have been arrested under charges of Collecting arms, etc, Waging, or attempting to wage war, Sedition, Distribution of Banned Literature, etc. We are aware that IPC section
144 has been clamped for the last one year at the place where they were arrested which prohibits assembly of five or more persons, holding of public meetings, and carrying of firearms. Even if we
consider that the arrested trio had violated this act, the rest of the charges are false, unsubstantiated and sans preuve.

Kanishka Chowdhury is a school-teacher by profession. He is quite renowned in the little-magazine circles and his writings and poetries have been published in various little-magazines like Anushtup and others. He has contributed several articles and translations in various publications. Some of them are as follows:
1. Notun Shatak Patrika, October 2007 issue - ‘Sankrityayan O Bangali Guru’ (Sankrityayan and Bengali God-men).
2. Notun Shatak Patrika, August, 2008 issue – ‘Ekti Somporker Sondhane : Bongiyo Guru o Rajniti’ (In search of a relationship : Bengali god-men and politics).
3. Notun Shatak Patrika, November, 2009 – Translation of a lecture on Henry Louis Derozio delivered by Walter Madge in 1904.
4. Sharodiya Sunrito Patrika, 2009, - ‘Henry Louis Derozio –Samayer Agei Janma Neoa Manush’ (Henry Louis Derozio – A man born before the time)
5. Ajker Yubachetana, February 2009 issue, Civil Society : Prathamik Ruprekha (Civil Society : Primary Outlines)
6. Sociologia Indica, June-July issue, a research note ‘Syncretism in the cult of Loknath

Apart from these, his anthology of poems was published in 2007 and at the Kolkata Book Fair his book ‘Civil Society Europe Bharate’(Civil Society in Europe India). He was currently working on the translation of a long article on Tripura by James Long and was also translating the Arundhati Ray’s recent speech at a seminar in the city. He was also working on a collection on Derozio by Anchalik Darpan.

He was invited as speaker to numerous seminars and symposiums. He spoke at Uttarpara Ganabhaban on April 25, 2009 at seminar on “200 years of Derozio” organized by Shahartali magazine.

We are pained by the state terror and the politics of individual assassination at Lalgarh and we would like to see its end.

We, on behalf of the little magazines, would like to appeal that Kanishka Chowdhury, Manik Mondal, Nisha Biswas and all others who are being held without sufficient proof be released after due defense at the court. We would request your intervention for the withdrawal of unsubstantiated charges against them and their early release.

Thanking you,
Yours truly,
cc: Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Minister-in-charge, Department of
Information and Culture,
Government of West Bengal.
cc: The Secretary, Department of Home, Government of West Bengal.