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India Jail

India Jail

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Published by Tay Za Thura

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Published by: Tay Za Thura on Jan 04, 2011
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01/04/2011

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A LETTER FROM KOLKATA PRISONDate: November 5, 2010ToDear Democratic activists, freedom and justice fighters and all the people,
We are the 34 members of National Unity Party Arakan and Karen National Union, who have beenheld in the prison named Correctional Home, Kolkata city in West Bengal India without anysignification legal ground for 12 years. We have been fighting for democracy, justice, human rightsand equality in Burma against the illegal ruling military junta so called State Peace andDevelopment Council that had ruthlessly staged a coup in 1988.34 Ethnic Freedom Fighters in Kolkata JailWe the ethnic Arakanese and Karen freedom fighters were on our way to India by boats, hoping to build a military base at the Landfall Island in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, persuaded byLt. Cal Grewal of India army. On February 11, 1998 at 8 AM, we found ourselves surrounded byIndia military, navy and air-force upon our arrival at Landfall Nicobar. We ended up with under arrests, and our leaders namely, Commander Khaing Yarzar, Captain Hmu Saw Htun, Cap. Yan Naing, Phado Hmu Lal, Cap. Lin Zan Khaing and Cap. Myint Swe were executed on the spot incold-blood by India authority while the Burmese military officials were watching the event from adistance.Instead of handing us over to the local authorities in a legal fashion, we were secretly held in themilitary cells in Port Blair a city of Andaman island, and ten of us were taken to New Delhi bymilitary plane for interrogation by Military Intelligence MI for a few days.The rests of us were secretly taken to Camp Bell Bay in Nicobar, miles away from Port Blair andhidden there in order to avoid the public and media attention. After that, we were forced to wear Indian military uniforms and secretly taken to Delhi. On February 27, 1998 we were transferred tothe local authority and finally put all of us in Port Blair prison on March 24, 1998. Afterward, wewere charged - U/S 121A/122/123/120B IPC Section14 of Foreigners Act, 1946-Section 25/ 27 ArmAct, 1959 and Section 5 of Explosive substance Act, 1908- of first information report by Lt.Commander R.S Dhauker at Port Blair Chief Judicial Magistrate (C-J-M) Court dated on February18, 1998.According to the litigation, we were portrayed as illegal weapon-dealers who traded arms andammunitions to the Indian ethnic rebels especially in the north eastern part of India. On May 28,1998 we were granted for bail due to the delays and distractions of the trial process on part of Central Bureau of Intelligence CBI, which was responsible to take on the case against us on behalf of the Indian government, three months later.Though, our detention order was extended for another 12 months under the National Security Actciting that we, as the subversive elements, post the threat to the national security of India signed byI.P. Gupta, the governor of the island. In reality, we were not the threat to the national security of India but the staunch alliance launching joint-operations with Indian army against their ethnicseparatists and informing the India army where the Chinese military bases and radar stations locatedin Burma in stead. We indeed had helped India by feeding the valuable and sensitive information toIndian army with regard to the security concern of India. That was the reason we became affinity
 
with Indian army personnel up until we were duped by Indian military official causing this mess.While in Port Blair prison, we were locked up in the dark cells at all time, except getting foods andtaking showers, without any visitor or contact from outside. On August 27, 1998 a human rightsattorney named Hinery Tiphy sent by South Asian Human Rights Documentation Center, NewDelhi, was harassed and barred from his request to interview with all of us. He would never beallowed any further visit to our prison again after he was allowed to talk a representative of us for afew minutes. He eventually gave up his job to represent us ever since then. Nothing had done even after 12 months imprisonment until the term of National Security Act wasexpired. We staged a seven days hunger strike demanding the rights to attorney, listen radio andread newspapers and magazines. Our demands were met ending up with the chance to choose ahuman rights lawyer named Ms. Nandita Hakasar to represent us on August 28, 1999. With her andMr. Natoo C.J.M Port Blair’s help, we were released with 10,000 rupees bond per person atmidnight, on October 13, 1999. Unfortunately, at the prison gate, the police again put us under house-arrest in a three-story old house, an old government building heavily guarded by arm personnel.There in the old and filthy house, we were allowed to leave the house for only limited purpose likeshopping, hospital and the court by the police escort. The routine roll-calls on us were made twice aday every morning and night making sure no one sneaked out.On November 15, 1999 Ms. Vrinda Grouer and a local attorney from New Delhi were assigned totake up our case. Their attempt for five of us to meet with UNHCR representatives in New Delhiwas banned by upper court that was under pressure by C.B.I in April 2001. Also, the request of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) for us to meet two of its representativeswas denied by the authority on July 2, 2001. Basically, we were blocked to meet any human rightsagent, media or individual by the authority. Even the local people, who were sympathetic to our  precarious disposition, were threatened by the authority not to communicate with us.The strict isolation caused us to give up all the fundamental rights. Our rights, since many of uswere youths, to study basic skills such as computer, English or others were officially denied. OnJuly 10, 2010 two of our members were disappeared without any further information until today.We also had lost the regional attorney representing us named Ms. T. Vasantha when she was brutallystabbed in the neck and killed in her house under the broad day light on December 1, 2003.Meantime, we had to attend to the court once or twice a month without any substantial progress dueto the continuous and systematic delay of C.B.I to present its case forward. The unforeseeablefuture had led us to make an appeal directly at the court that we were not the gun- runners by anynature but the freedom fighters struggling for the freedom and democracy in Burma. And, weclaimed our innocence that we had landed in India in good faith by the invitation of Indian armyofficial. Our repeated appeals were put on hold by C.B.I that asked for more time to complete itsinvestigation. According to C.B.I officials, the lack of cooperation on part of the Ministry of Defense had led them the difficulties to collect the evidences, the material witnesses and the nameof the responsible persons to interview in regard to the operation. Since there was no way possiblefor her to move the case forward, our attorney Ms. Nandita Haksar directly filed a complaint at theSupreme Court in New Delhi on September 17, 2004.On November 16, 2004 the Supreme Court issued a warning to the governor of the Nicobar Islandand the C.B.I official that we would be released indefinitely if C.B.I continued to fail to present itsclaim. C.B.I, then, had decided to bring our case back to C. J. M Court in Port Blair on December 
 
27, 2004. Our question in this case was why the C.B.I that was delaying the trial for almost sixyears long citing the lack of cooperation by the ministry of defense then was, all of a sudden, callingour case back to hear within a month immediately after the Supreme Court had hinted them to freeus? We came to understand that the Indian authorities are stonewalling our case and concealingwhat had happen to us and our slain leaders. If our attorneys might not have filed the complaintdirectly to the Supreme Court, this case would have been dragged down to the centuries to come byC.B.I, and we would have been rotten in the confinement for sure.In its charges, C.B.I accused us as the rebels, who were illegally entered into Indian territory withillegal arms and ammunitions, under U/S 14 of Foreigners Act, 1947, 25 (1.B) of Arms Act,1959and Section 5 of Explosive substances Act, 1908. It was now crystal clear that C.B.I not onlycovered up the brutal killings of our six leaders but also sided with the military officers, whocommitted the heinous crime, by spinning the case with these inevitable charges against us. Therealization of the C.B.I’s delay and defeat tactic had convinced our attorney Ms. Kamini Jaiswal torequest the Supreme Court for the transferring of our trial to Kolkata Central Court on March 30,2005. As a result, the Supreme Court had instructed the Session Court in Port Balia to transfer our trial to Kalkota on October 10, 2006, and we were sent to Port Balia jail at the same day.On October 30, 2006 we were transferred to Presidential Correctional Home jail in Kolkata. C.B.Iciting that we were threat to the public safety of the region had sent a request to the Chief Minister of West Bengal to hear a closed door trial in the prison. And, the state prime minister office hadinstructed to do so. However, our attorney had organized the human rights organizations in Kolkata,the intellectuals, the legal experts and the respectable persons like Dr. (Col) Lakshunit Sehgal, afounder of India’s female regiment under the leadership of the founding father of India army duringthe World War II named Subhas Chandra Bose to get involve. And, Dr. (Col) Lakshunit Sehgal hadled Solidarity Community for Burma’s Freedom Fighters demanding the state prime minister tohold a public hearing with regard to our trail. Finally, the state prime minister had withdrew hisinstruction.With an aim to mislead public sympathy on our precarious disposition, C.B.I then launched a smear media campaign among the West Bengal authorities and the local people by labeling us as“dangerous subversive elements”. Therefore, we were poorly treated by the prison authorities, whocommanded about 400 prisoners to attack us in our cells resulting serious injuries among us in the prison. In additions, C.B.I and its 18 witnesses continued to delay the trial by giving many legalexcuses. For instance, the key witnesses, three officers involved in operation leach had refused toattend the trial by giving personal reasons.Betwixt and between, the Session Judge Ashima Kumar, the in charge of the trial was suddenlytransferred leaving us to wait for another ten months for new judge to come. It was indeed anadditional effort to delay the trial. Over three years long trial at the session court of Bichar Bhawan,Kolkata starting on January 29, 2007, four judges were switched until the trial ended up with “PleaBargaining” on July 12, 2010. The process of calling the witnesses, questioning them by both parties and the legal arguments from both sides had taken over six months. Still, C.B.I continued todelay the process forcing us to give up our chance of winning the case hence the trial was thus solong already. As a result, we all 34 of us had finally decided to sign an appeal for “plea bargaining”after face to face meeting with C.B.I that lastly had agreed to end the trial on May 5, 2010. Under the terms of his judgment, the judge had not only failed to order the Indian army to return our  properties such as two fishing boats and two speedboats they confiscated but also put fines on us to pay 6000 rupees per each person or 8 months jails if we could not effort to pay.The justice had never been served still. Section 265 B of plea bargaining law clearly stated that the person entered to plea bargaining must serve the one third of his/her actual term. The total of our 

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