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Arrested student chained to hospital bed in WB, CPI-M to move rights panel

Deploring the chaining of an arrested student activist to his hospital bed in West Bengal, the CPI-M Tuesday threatened to move the state Human Rights Commission against the "inhuman behaviour of police".

This is inhuman and barbaric and reflects the attitude of the government, which is determined to crush the voice of the opposition at any cost. We will move the Human Rights Commission against this barbarism of police," CPI-M leader Asok Bhattacharya said.

Santosh Sahani, a first year student, was arrested on April 10 for participating in a students' rally that turned violent after a clash between Trinamool Congress and Left supporters in Siliguri.

Sahani, a leader of the CPI-M affiliated Students Federation of India, was Monday admitted to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri in Darjeeling district, after he complained of illness.

As the activist was remanded to judicial custody by a court, police chained his leg to the hospital bed using a handcuff.

Handcuffed to the hospital bed
Representational Pic

CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose condemned the incident and accused police of pressurising Sahani to get back to jail.

"This is inhuman and barbaric. He is not a dreaded criminal that police had to chain him. This is yet another glaring example of this government's relentless attack on democracy," said Bose.

Siliguri Police Commissioner Anand Kumar blamed the jail authorities.

"Sahani is under judicial custody and police have nothing to do with this. He is under the custody of jail authorities and they are the ones to answer why he was chained," said Kumar.

Kumar conceded that such an extreme step was used only in cases of hardened criminals who might abscond.

Following continuous broadcasting of videos by the media showing a chained Sahani and the growing criticism, police later removed the handcuff.

CPI(M) leader Ashok Bhattacharya went to visit Sahani during the day and found him chained to the bed.

Live footage of the SFI student leader being chained to the bed was shown on television.

"The West Bengal government is claiming that it is a government with a human face. But the condition of human rights in Bengal is worse than the days of emergency," Left Front Chairman Biman Bose said.

"The incident is condemnable. It should not have happened, " WBPCC president Pradip Bhattacharjee said.

Human rights activist Sujato Bhadro said it was a gross violation of human rights. "You can never do such thing with an accused. He is yet to be proved guilty. Even if he is proven guilty you can't chain him when he is under treatment. This is a gross violation of human rights," he said. 

Meanwhile, human rights organisation Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) will not only move a complaint against the police to the Human Rights Commission but will also complain against the hospital authorities before the Medical Council of India (MCI).

"How can hospital authorities allow police too chain him? This is not only inhuman and barbaric, but is unethical and goes against the principles of the medical profession. We will complain about this to the MCI," APDR secretariat member Ranjit Sur said. 

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