Mamata says 50 political prisoners freed; lies, says rights group

Kolkata, April 8 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday said she has freed 50 political prisoners since coming to power, but a human rights group rubbished her claim and said that 300 political activists have been jailed by her regime.

“Banerjee’s claim of freeing 50 political prisoners is entirely false. Not a single political prisoner has been freed. Rather, over 300 political activists have been imprisoned ever since the new government came to power,” Ranjit Sur, state secretariat member, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), told IANS.

While announcing the government’s decision to free 22 political prisoners, Banerjee Monday claimed 50 such prisoners have already been freed.

“As per the commitment of our government, we have already released 50 political prisoners. Continuing the process, 22 more such prisoners will be released before the Bengali New Year (April 15),” Banerjee said at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings here.

Sur, however, claimed that the 50 political prisoners, associated with either the Greater Cooch Behar Movement or the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, were not freed. Instead, they were granted bail by the Calcutta High Court.

“Her claim is entirely false. The 50 prisoners she is talking about have not been freed. They are on bail and cases are still pending against them. She has not kept the promise of freeing political prisoners which she had made before coming to power,” Sur said.

The Banerjee government had constituted a review committee to release political prisoners. The panel had recommended release of 78 such prisoners.

However, Banerjee announced the government’s decision to free only 52 prisoners in July 2011, only to further prune the list to 50.

Claiming that the government was still to act on its announcement, Sur said that APDR would hold a demonstration in the city April 10 demanding the release of all political prisoners languishing in various jails in the state.

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