About our President through his pen
TALL TALK ABOUT A DWARF PERSONALITY
From the profession of Accountancy to the arena of Social Accountability
I am basically a Protestant, not by religion but by practice. Born in a very poor refugee family from erstwhile East Pakistan and groomed in slum under all sorts of adversities for which from the very childhood days a strong conviction had developed in my mind to do something for the poor and downtrodden section of the society. My childhood experience in the town of Howrah, a twin city of Calcutta was extremely bitter which had caused hidden anger in my system and on later days when I could learn to distinguish between good and bad, I started in depth study of all the major problems of my town and had painfully observed that most of our sufferings were/are the products of misdeeds and wrong doings on the part of various authorities. From 1977 I began to highlight those shortcomings and failures of the district administration. In the process a docile and mediocre personality had become a terror in the eyes of local authority and unknowingly through a long drawn course of civic battle I become a true Protestant.
No occasion has so far arisen to count the number of protest movements so far organized through my initiatives from the year 1977, which were initially for my native place Howrah and subsequently for the city of Calcutta and lastly for few national and international issues. There are international agendas on which I have staged public agitation first time in the whole country. For example without any political affiliation I had organized mass movement on 26th May 1989 in support of the students’ agitation and opposing the atrocities on students at Tiananmen Square of Beijing, China. In support of Taslima Nasrin’s move against religious fanaticism on 9th June 1994, I had organized the first movement in the country. There are about 10,000 newspaper cuttings and hundreds of electronic media coverages (including B.B.C and C.N.N.) on my different types of social activism. It was a matter of real pleasure to the Howrah district police authority to put me behind bar on several occasions because I had caused considerable displeasure to them through various movements for human causes. More than a dozen of false criminal cases, including 2 attempt to murder proceedings, had been instituted by the police against me and my associates.
Although I have not missed a single problematic issue concerning the city of Howrah for more than two decades, my thrust area was environment and ecology. Perhaps I am the only person in the country who has faced attempt to murder case for the movement to save the greenery of Howrah (Howrah P. S. Case No. 236 dt. 18.11.91). There had really been great occasion when I was arrested by the police and was put into lock-up with saplings in hand for my attempt to plant trees at the spot from where trees had been cut down for commercial purposes. False case was registered against me giving severable non-bailable Sections of I.P.C./Cr P C.
After the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984 the issue of environmental pollution became the top most priority to me and to my fighter colleagues. Beatings by police, instituting false and fabricated criminal cases and political pressures/tortures could not stop us from undertaking the tree plantation programme, garbage cleaning operations, protest against illegal and mass deforestation at different parts of Howrah town and agitation against the heinous move to convert the parks/play grounds/other greeneries for commercial exploitations etc. More than four thousand photographs and some video recordings will speak for the same.
Experienced childhood misery and subsequent manhood miry made my mission firm, the dictation was clear — “fight for the human causes”. There was no scope to think anything else other than the problems of the city of Howrah, presently inhabited by 1.5 millions of dwellers. I started studying in depth all the major problems like water distribution, drainage/sewerage, non- clearance of garbage, destruction of greeneries/water-bodies/wet lands, unplanned growth of high-rises, decomposed bodies in the morgue etc. A mega city with service privy gave immense pain to my heart. I realized that planned development in the major problematic fields could only save us. Unfortunately our series of movements on these issues from 1977 to 1995 could not produce much result. Demanding developments we simply got deadly batons from the police. It became really difficult to achieve anything through the peoples’ forum in a highly politicalised state like West Bengal. Thus there was no option left before me other than shifting from peoples’ forum to the highest judicial authority of the country. Yes, I had decided to take all our matters to the Supreme Court.
Considering the difficulties of acceptability of the Howrah matters before the Hon’ble Court attempt was made to link almost all the developmental/civic issues of the city to environment and ecology. Condensing all the matters handled during 19 years from 1977 to 1995 a massive Writ Petition of 442 pages, enclosing 68 photographs, was filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (Writ Petition No. 385 (W) of 1995) in April 1995. I had pleaded the case in-person for one year. Imagine the difficulty of a man, who has never pleaded any case before any court of the country and who had practically no communication skill in English, to plead before the country’s highest Judicial Forum and obtain the historical order from there. Thus a man with the poorest ability got himself acclimatized and accepted by the highest court of the country. However, for better monitoring and control of the issues raised in the Writ Petition for Howrah, the same was transferred by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to the High Court at Calcutta with a direction to designate a separate Bench to deal with all environmental matters including our petition. Thus based on our appeal concerning the plight of the people of Howrah, the first Environment Bench, popularly known as the “Green Bench”, in any High Court of the country was set up in June 1996.
After the constitution of the Environment Bench (Green Bench) in the High Court at Calcutta I have appeared for the Howrah matters for more than five years [from 17th June 1996 to 1st October 2001] and have submitted 13 supplementary affidavits enclosing many photographs on several issues. Lastly the petition along with supplementary affidavits and affidavits-in-opposition became so voluminous that the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the High Court, Calcutta had expressed difficulty in handling such heavy files and disposed of the same in October 2001. In the process of handling the Howrah matters before the Green Bench my acceptability to the Calcutta High Court became very encouraging which had prompted me to take up other major environmental issues of Calcutta and of the entire state of West Bengal.
Meanwhile, a German Scholar, Mr. Hans Dembowski, came to Calcutta for his research work on “Environmental Litigations in India”. Mr. Dembowski contacted me at the Green Bench and started taking notes of the High Court proceedings. He had also paid several visits to the city of Howrah and personally observed all the points covered in my Writ Petition. His thesis paper has extensively covered Howrah matters. Afterwards based on his thesis Oxford University Press published a book titled — “taking the State to Court”, which was released in Calcutta Book Fair on 7th February 2001. Since the said book contained some unacceptable remarks about the judiciary, Oxford University Press has now withdrawn the same following a Contempt of Court proceedings. I am also a contemptoner in the said matter.
At present I am acting and agitating before the Court of Law on all major environmental issues of the State of West Bengal. Whenever any incident of damage to the ecology and environment takes place and or any attempt is made to damage the same, I get the information at the first instance and rush to the spot whether it is Darjeeling hills or sea areas of Sundarban. I attend all the major issues of pollution in the State of West Bengal and in the city of Calcutta. From the year 1996 to May 2007 I have moved before the High Court at Calcutta and before the Supreme Court of India on various issues, the details of which can be seen from the resume about our parent organization (Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity).
I move before the judiciary only after being satisfied about the gravity of the problem and also after undertaking extensive research work on all the problematic matters.
Perhaps I am the only privileged personality in the country who first gets the information and collects the documents on public issues of importance, takes the photographs of the matters, drafts the petition, files the same before the High Court/Supreme Court and although not a lawyer by profession submits before the court on those matters. In the Court all my submissions are based on the first hand knowledge and information, which never got defeated by the second hand information and submissions of even very reputed counsels.
Other than being a lawyer possibly I have moved India’s highest number of Public Interest Litigations before the High Court at Calcutta and the Supreme Court of India. In my various petitions I have so far enclosed more than 1000 photographs on different matters.
Earlier to 1995 1 had moved several Writ Petitions on public issues under Article 226 of the Constitution of India through the counsels and those matters had attracted immense public attention/interest. Other than moving various issues before the Green/PIL Bench, I am actively associated and performing series of eco-friendly activities at different places of the state of West Bengal and in North-eastern States, details of which have been given in the relevant organizational chapter.
At present I am attending various types of complaints on environmental issues from the entire state of West Bengal. A Green Brigade with women’s participation has been formed to combat environmental onslaughts and mass-education programme on social/environmental subjects from the primary school level will be taken up shortly. I have prepared an Action Plan for the Corporate Sector of the Country in the fields of environment and ecology and have approached the Calcutta giants to start actions thereon.
In spite of the best efforts the achievements in the fields of better environment and ecology are not up to the mark and I have no hesitation to admit that it is my failure that I have not been able to make the people adequately aware and the public participation on social/environmental issues is still very poor. I have a “Wish List” which is as follows: -
a) To build up a technically competent team of experts that will attend the complaints on industrial pollution.
b) To educate the people, mainly the primary school children, through a comprehensive programme.
c) To build up a Quasi Judicial team that will liaise with Government/Govt. Offices and will see that the orders of the Green/PIL Bench are complied with, request the Government to enforce the existing Environmental Laws/Rules, advise the Government to enact more stringent Acts/Rules in different related matters.
d) To make the Environment authorities like Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Boards etc. an independent authority like Election Commission.
e) To create a Forest Security Brigade in the Country.
To say something out of nothing is difficult, which I have done through the earlier paragraphs but it is more difficult for me to be silent on the variety of the subjects/public causes on which I have moved in the past. As a social activist I have led innumerable movements on matters of public interest, the date wise details of some of them can be seen from the organizational chapter. I am really happy because in spite of practically no instant positive result out of our movements, people have participated in the programs in thousands and have helped us
to earn the reputation of honest and dedicated pressure group of the society.
My activities on public causes are not the matter of pride but the same symbolizes the sense of duty to the society which I have humbly attempted to perform. I feel myself privileged for that the people of Howrah and of some other places also have reposed confidence in me and my activities and I am grateful to my society because even not holding any Govt. and or other important post,
I receive many of the mails without any postal address. No one should expect anything more from the society where he lives in.