A Father’s Voice

A Father’s Voice

This has reference to articles in the  press discrediting my son Arun  Ferreira who has been tortured and  imprisoned in Nagpur Central Jail for more than a year now and subjected to all  sorts of tests and chemical analysis. Arun is a noble person. His brush with  activism started when he was a student  in college. Injustice towards the canteen workers disturbed him. Soon after college  he worked with Mumbai’s slum-dwellers – facilitating their rehabilitation and  relocation. He was also actively involved in student organisations and participated  in student-farmer campaigns.

On his frequent home visits, he talked  about the dalits and the landless  labourers who had been denied the  benefits guaranteed to them under the  Constitution and were thus denied health  services, education, water, food and  employment. He guided them, helped  them in their distress and also taught  their children.

I was away from Mumbai and was  surprised to know that he had been  arrested and the commissioner of police  branded him as a “Naxalite”. ith all the  accusations and hype in the newspapers, I could not return for fear of my life. Apparently Arun, along with Dhanendra  Bhurule  (a journalist recognised for his  writings on social injustice) and Naresh  Bansode (an activist) had gone to meet  Murli, whom the police claim to be a  “Naxalite”. As we understand, the police  were tracking Murli’s movements at the  time; they have conveniently implicated  my son in a host of false cases, and  subjected him to torture and even the  dreaded narco-analysis test not once but  twice over. Immediately after his arrest, the police have broken into my home in  my absence. The search team headed  by an assistant commissioner of police  did not allow  my brother to  be present while my house was searched. Obviously nothing was found. On the contrary, an imported pen and radio were missing. Soon after, we were paid a visit by  an interrogation team inquiring about  Arun’s presence in Mumbai on certain  specific dates going back several years.

Does this imply that every citizen ought to have a conclusive record of his own whereabouts dating back several years so that he can defend himself against  charges allegedly committed at the time? No one will believe my son. His only chance is to find discrepancies in the  original charge sheets and the police  evidence with the help of lawyers and  witnesses to prove his innocence. I know for certain that Arun was in Mumbai on one of those dates attending  an important family get-together. Yet the police claim that they have witnesses  numbering up to even a hundred in some  cases. This is proof enough of the  ridiculousness of the charges. Arun  himself in several conversations with me  since his incarceration has mentioned that  he had never set foot in some of those  places ever!

Arun was tortured in jail. He was denied free access to his lawyer. As a mark of  protest against the many injustices faced  by him in jail, he and some others went on  a 28-day hunger strike. Instead of appointing  an independent authority, the government has nominated the commissioner of  police as an inquirer. Can one ever hope to  redress to one’s grievances in this manner? He now has one more charge of  “attempted suicide” slapped on him. The absurdity continues…

I now visit my son at Nagpur Central Jail and am allowed to speak to him through bars, wire mesh and constant supervision. My son often tells me “Daddy you know me. Do you believe what the police say about the crimes I committed? ”. At other times he tells me that he has never been to the places where the police allege he has committed a crime. The charges framed have nothing whatsoever to do with him. As mentioned earlier, I
know for certain he was here on one of those dates. And that says a lot about the veracity of the other charges.

The continuous and brutal initial interrogation, torture and narco-analysis have caused him much harm. The physical manifestations are headaches, hair loss and stomach-related ailments. There seems to be some discrepancies  and ambiguities in the narcoanalysis  reports. The video compact disc  seems to have been misplaced and  therefore has not been provided to  Arun and his lawyer even though he has  a right to it.

With all my knowledge of my son Arun, I know that he is an honest and loyal citizen  and will not harm another. Like other activists  all over India who are helping the poor  and suffering villagers hit by the rapid  industrialisation and “development”, he  has been targeted and sent to jail.

I pray that the courts are able to see  through these baseless charges and return  Arun his freedom so that he can continue  his work.

Finally, I am grateful that my son was not killed in an encounter and that he is still alive and well and able to defend himself against the charges made out against him  and allowed to prove his innocence.

Thomas Ferreira


Oct 11th, 2008

(p.s written three years back this letter still relevent and echoes a  Father’s sentiments and still there is a media trial, polic torture and brutality, nothing has changed despite the fact Arun Ferreira was discharged of all the fabricated cases in Septemebr 2011)

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