Abduction by Gujarat ATS
The Criminal abduction, indulged in by the Gujarat ATS, of Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya, a social activist, adds to the stories lawlessness which has been the norm all through for those who have a different world view than that shared by the powers-that-be.

A resident of Nagpur, Tushar had gone to Kolkata to meet some of his relatives. He left Kolkata for Nagpur on 7 August 2017 by Geetanjali Express (Coach A1). He was all alone. As can be deciphered he was being followed by the Gujarat ATS and the moment he reached Nagpur, he was kidnapped by them. His mobile phone was seized. He was not allowed to contact members of his family, nor was his relatives given any intimation of his arrest.

The story gets more bizarre since then. Here is a well known person, who stays in an official address with his wife Prof Shoma Sen from the English Department of Nagpur University, a well known women's activist, being produced wearing a mask to sensationalize the intrigue behind his arrest as well as the identity of the arrested. The identity of Tushar as a man of words, a prolific translator, well versed in Bengali, Telugu and Hindi, gets easily conflated with the seemingly all pervading facelessness of the ideology of 'War on Terror'!

Lawyer Susan Abraham with the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) succinctly sums up the criminality behind this act of arresting an 'absconding person'. To quote her : "By law, the Gujarat police ought to have sent a summons to the openly known address of his residence at Nagpur to appear before the concerned court and case in Gujarat.

If the abduction was not brazen enough, what is more shocking is the case in which Bhattacharya was kidnapped by the Gujarat police. It happens to be Crime Register No 1-37 of 2010 with the Kamrej police station, Surat. Bhattacharya is the 22nd person implicated in the case. All the 21 others have been released on bail. This was another reason why the modus operandi—abducting Bhattacharya—from Nagpur was totally uncalled for".

Where in the world can one imagine an FIR where the Time of Arrest is shown as: "Any time till today"! The definition of the offence is much more alarming in ambit and extent as it says: "Creating of class conflict, and rousing feeling of dissatisfaction among religious minorities and tribals living in the forests by doing misleading propaganda, causing anti-national sentiments and so on". The final nail in the coffin of accountability and fairness of procedure is the list of the names filed in the FIR as it stares at you: "Unknown members of CPI (Maoist) and others". Little wonder that the Gujarat ATS applied their mind while producing Tushar before the court with hood!

It is further pertinent to note that when this FIR was filed in 2010 (C R No I-37 of 2010) Tushar was already an under-trial prisoner lodged in Cherlapally jail, Hyderabad. What is rather amusing is that despite being accused of committing a crime when he was behind bars at time of the supposed commission of the said offence (!) Tushar, while in Cherlappally jail during 2010-2013, wrote two applications (Dated May 9, 2011 and July 22, 2011) to the court of the judicial magistrate of Khattor, under whose jurisdiction the case was lodged. He had mentioned in those applications that he should be produced in court if he was really an accused in that case. But, as one can see, the Gujarat police didn't want him to be produced. Such production for them, as it appears from their present criminal abduction and attempt to tarnish the image of the abducted person by deliberately declaring him to be absconding and further maligning him by producing him hooded in the court, are pointers to how deeply criminalized and unaccountable the law enforcing machinery has become.

Sar Geelani, President, Amit Bhattacharyya, Secretary General, Sujato Bhadra, Vice-President, Sukhendu Bhattacharjee, Vice-President, M N Ravunni, Vice-President, P Koya, Vice-President, Malem, Vice-President, Hanybabu MT, Media Secretary, Rona Wilson, Secretary, Public Relations

Vol. 50, No.9, Sep 3 - 9, 2017