Women’s Commission Chairperson shocked by stories of police atrocities in the Hills

Kalimpong, 17 Apr:

Rekha Sharma, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, visited Kalimpong today to understand problems faced by women during the Gorkhaland agitation of last year which had lasted for 105 days.

After collecting complaints of the women here, she assured to forward these to the Central government and the President of India.

Many women who have been seeking justice came to meet her at Hotel Mayfair here near the District Magistrate’s office. They could be seen lining up since 10 in the morning to call on the NCW Chairperson.

After hearing out the horrors of police atrocity shared by the womenfolk, Ms Sharma remarked that it felt as if she was not even in ‘Independent India’.

“After coming here, I don’t think I am in India or Independent India, and I don’t think police here is for people’s assistance. The police here is working like an agent, getting orders from somewhere else. After hearing the stories, I can say that there is no democracy in the hills,” she said.

She also mentioned that the District Magistrate of Darjeeling initially refused to even meet her, and eventually did after her tweet about the snub went viral.

The Chairperson said that the DM Darjeeling had ‘no answers’ to her questions.

“Major police atrocities had taken place here. I will definitely make it a point to reach these complaints to the central government and I will give these complaints to the President of India as well. The Central government will do something about it,” she said further.

She added that if police committed the atrocities on their own behest, then an inquiry should have taken place by now.

“If an Inspector-in-charge is abusing women and threatening rape, Mamta Ji should conduct a thorough investigation against him. If no investigation is taking place, then it would suggest that the officer was not acting on his own,” she remarked.

Ms Sharma has also appealed to the Chief Minister to come and meet the complainants here, hoping that her heart melts after listening to the heart-wrenching stories of the women of the hills.

That said, there was a group of around 40 women who demonstrated outside the venue for about 15 minutes questioning the NCW Chairperson’s visit at this time when, as per them, the West Bengal Government has restored peace in the hills.

The coordinator of the district committee of the GJm, Kalpana Tamang, said that the protest was for Ms Sharma not having come earlier.

’We protest her visit now as it is very late to inquire about women’s problems, why didn't she visit us when we were wounded? There were many women who were lathi-charged and many were displaced, now we are at peace and our wounds are sown, we don't need NCW now’ said Kalpana Tamang.

When asked why she did not visit the hills during 105 days of strife, Sharma said that she was not allowed to do so, ‘I was not allowed to come this time as well, I had to write a letter stating that if anything happens to me here, the state government would be responsible which I had forwarded to the Chief secretary along with the D.G, only then I was provided with the security’ she said.

It can also be mentioned that the protest here is influenced by the political interest, Sharma also said that the women who have been protesting here are compellingly held with the placards by a specific political party who have no idea whether it is the Human rights visiting or the Commission for Women. ‘They are being used by the others’ she said.

However, she said that she would also ‘try’ and talk to the State as if anything like such happens in a state, the first responsibility becomes of the state to look after such problems, ‘If not, I will also talk to the Home Minister and the President of India.