Staff Reporter

KOLKATA: The recent arrest of a human rights activist here by the city police on the charge of organising a “people's tribunal” in June 2008, has drawn the ire of the Human Rights Watch which has accused the police of harassing social activists.

The organisation has demanded that the charges be dropped.

The person in question is Kirity Roy, secretary of the Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and National Convener, Program Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI).

While Mr. Roy alleges that his arrest and subsequent release on bail was “an attempt to curb the dissenting voice against the authoritarian approach of the police administration and the government,” Kolkata Commissioner of Police, Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti asserted that the charges pressed against Mr. Roy are justified since none can run a “parallel jury” in the country.

According to Mr. Roy, the public tribunal was a part of the European Union-funded project NPTTI (National Project on Preventing Torture in India), and 13 jury members, who are also noted social activists, former judges and journalists, were present at the programme.

He claimed that the city police was notified about the programme.

“Eighty-two victims of torture deposed before the panel and several officials of the State police and the Border Security Force were present. It was a natural process so that the victims' voices are heard by society as well as to pressurise the concerned authorities into taking action,” Mr. Roy told The Hindu on Monday.