'We don't want to lose Arun in a encounter' By: Alka Dhupkar May 13, 2007
Arun Ferriera’s friends demand a fair trial; write letter to Home Minister R R Patil
The letter states
‘We cannot admit that Arun would engage in any activity which would hurt the interest of people.
Nor believe that he would engage in any undemocratic activity.
That he should be tortured and dealt with in such a manner at the hands of the police is entirely unacceptable. In the recent past there have been innumerable reports on the issue of fake encounters’....
Arun Ferriera’s friends from St Xavier’s College are a worried lot these days — fearing for their friend’s safety in the hands of unscrupulous cops.
Nine of them, who are working in different fields, have got together and sent a letter to Home Minister RR Patil on Saturday, requesting the Deputy Chief Minister to release Arun as they are scared that the latter could be bumped off in a fake encounter.
George Jose, consultant
What they say
Says Arun’s college friend Neeraj Sahay, who is a cinematographer and documentary filmmaker, “Arun always wanted to work for marginalised people.
He was very proactive during his college days and carried on spreading social awareness after he left the institute. Fighting against injustice was his main concern, but is that a crime?”
Sahay says that the government is bent on suppressing anyone who protests against them. “This is totally disgusting and undemocratic. Now we are scared, after reading reports that he will be handed over to the Andhra Pradesh Police.
We believe that the AP police could turn it into a fake encounter. The whole country is aware of what happened with Sohrabuddin,” said Sahay.
He feels the state home ministry should release Arun. “If not, we demand that he be immediately transferred to judicial custody and provided access to a lawyer. The police system is breaking down. We can’t trust them anymore,” adds Sahay.
Neeraj Sahay, cinematographer
Arun’s friends claim that he was a brilliant student, securing a first class degree in Mathematics (BSc). He was also a keen cartoonist.
However, he did not choose to follow a secure career as he was always interested in helping needy people. During his college days, in the 1990s, he was among the active students who fought against a rapist in Elphistone College, recall Arun’s friends.
Documentary filmmaker Surabhi Sharma, writer and journalist Sameera Khan, research fellow Rochelle Pinto, documentary filmmaker Kavita Pal, secretary of Forum for Medical Ethics Society Neha Madhiwala, Neeraj Sahay, editor of Savvy Cookbook Antoine Lewis, consultants George Jose and Raj Chaudhuri are the friends who have come together to write the letter to Patil.
Sameera Khan, journalist
The letter states, “We cannot admit that Arun would engage in any activity which would hurt the interest of people. Nor believe that he would engage in any undemocratic activity.
That he should be tortured and dealt with in such a manner at the hands of the police is entirely unacceptable.
In the recent past there have been innumerable reports on the issue of ‘fake encounters’.
We too view this practice with deep concern. Such extra-judicial killings are, in our view, unacceptable in any society.
It has also been reported that there is an attempt to transfer Arun’s custody to the Andhra Pradesh police. In the said context, our fear of Arun being treated ‘conveniently’ with extra-judicial practices, can only be well founded.”
What his friends want for Arun
Immediate medical examination by an independent team of doctors at a government facility Transfer to judicial custody Facilitate his access to a lawyer Treatment with dignity as political prisoner
The story so far
Police claims Bandra-resident Arun Ferriera was the propaganda chief of Naxals in Maharashtra.
Pereira was arrested in Nagpur on May 8 where he had gone to attend an important meeting. He, along with three others, has been remanded to police custody till May 16.
‘The interrogation is on in a democratic manner,’ say cops
Nagpur cops deny Arun’s friends’ allegations against them in the letter to R R Patil. Said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 2, Amitesh Kumar Zone 2, “I have no knowledge about such a letter but the interrogation is going on in a very democratic manner. We have not at all tortured Arun Ferriera and the others.
His medical check-up was done at Government Medical Hospital in Nagpur on the same day of the arrest. The check-up is done every 48 hours.”
About Arun being handed over to Andhra Pradesh police, he said, “It depends upon the application put forward by the AP police in the court and the court is to decide on that.
We cannot say anything on that issue. There is a panel of advocates fighting for him and he is in police custody till May 16 for enquiry purposes.”