51 lifers to be released
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that the State will not oppose the bail petition of ailing Ultra-Left prisoner and senior Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Sushil Roy.
“[Social activist and writer] Mahasweta Devi has sent a mass petition in this matter — he is ailing... we wish well…. We will not oppose his bail petition, but it is for the courts now,” Ms. Banerjee said. Mr. Roy faces charge-sheets in four cases.
Earlier, coinciding with the World Human Rights Day, Ms. Banerjee announced the release of 51 prisoners, including some lifers who are now serving sentences varying between 14 and 32 years.
“These are cases going back to the Left rule,” she said in an oblique pointer to the number of years these persons have spent behind the bars.
“Those talking big should note these things.”
“Today’s decision to free 51 prisoners was in addition to the release of 83 lifers already announced by the State government,” Ms. Banerjee journalists reporters at the State Secretariat.
Stating that 55 political prisoners have so far been released by the Trinamool Congress government which came to power in May, 2011, the Chief Minister said: “We kept our word as per our election pledge.”
Today’s list includes the name of Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) activist Utthan Kumar Pal. The SUCI is an electoral ally of the Trinamool.
“Now procedural matters will commence,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Even as Ms. Banerjee made these announcements to mark the day, she decided to stay away from a function organised by the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, where Chief Justice Altamas Kabir was present.
This is considered significant in view of the recommendations made by the Commission which have not gone down well with the State.
Best known case is that of Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was arrested for e-mail a cartoon of the Chief Minister.