KOLKATA: Concluding her three-day visit to the Darjeeling Hills on Wednesday, National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said the people of the hills were subjected to ‘unimaginable atrocities’ during the 105-day Gorkhaland agitation last year which were reminiscent of Emergency days.
Addressing a press conference in Kalimpong on Wednesday, Sharma indirectly blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the state Home Minister, for the police atrocities. “If police is acting on their own, Mamataji should have initiated inquiry against the police officers. If she is not conducting inquiry it is well understood and I need not elaborate. If she claims this as a part of West Bengal, she should come and listen to her own people and not isolate them. After all she is also a woman who can understand the problems of another woman.”
Narrating her experiences of meeting women victims of the agitation and political prisoners, she said ‘democracy has died in Darjeeling’. “I did not feel like I was not in independent India. Police acted at the behest of the ruling party. Darjeeling IC Soumyajit Roy, who issued a rape threat and District Magistrate Joyoshi Dasgupta did not have answers to many of my questions,” she said.
“Innumerable people are in the forests for fear of being arrested if they return home. In the jails, I saw people have 45-47 cases against them so that they have to deal with cases their entire lives, women with small children have been jailed and one small kid was jailed under Arms Act.”
Asked why the Women Commission did not come during or after the agitation, she claimed that she was not allowed to come even now. “I was told by the state government that everyone is busy in elections and I would not get any help. I was provided with security only after writing a letter to DIG and chief secretary stating that my safety was the responsibility of the state government.”
She added that the protests against her visit were politically motivated. “I would try to bring justice to these women at first through the intervention of the state government and if it does not cooperate with us, I will take the issue to the Home minister and President,” she added.