Calcutta Telegraph: Guwahati: Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
Meghalaya RTI activist Agnes Kharshiing today came out in defence of special superintendent of police (CID) N. Rajamarthandan, who was remanded in 14 days' judicial custody, describing him as an honest police officer.
"He (Rajmarthandan) is an honest officer. When he was posted in Meghalaya, he had taken on the coal mafia. Once, dressed in civvies, he had caught policemen taking bribes," Kharshiing, president of the NGO, Civil Society Women Organisation, said after she met Rajmarthandan at the court today.
"Replying to an RTI query can't be an offence. As a government servant, he was just performing his duty. It was wrong to arrest him," the human rights activist said.
Kharshiing issued a press statement where she said Rajamarthandan had told her that "nearly 65 persons were detained (in connection with the Silapathar incident) when there was no evidence against them. The authorities have the video (of the incident) and why are they not going through that?"
"He also said that this system of hiding the truth was bad and he did not want his children to ask questions later on why their father did nothing," she said in the statement.
"Illegal detention on denial of information on his part would have led to gross human rights violations. His conscience would not allow it and that is what he told us when we met him briefly as he was being produced in the court today," she said.
"It is important to note that the RTI Act specifies that intelligence and security organisations are exempted from the application of the act. However, it is provided that in case the demand for information pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violations, the act shall apply to such institutions. As a public information officer, he has done the right thing in giving the information," she added.
Rajamarthandan was today produced before the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate-1, Kamrup (metro), Sonamani Chanda, after the expiry of his two-day police remand.
A police source said the IPS officer had fallen ill while in police custody at the 4th Assam Police Battalion headquarters here last evening and was rushed to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, where he was kept under observation till this morning.
The source said according to doctors, he was suffering from a mild cardiac problem.
"The court today directed the jail authorities to provide him all medicines prescribed by the doctors and give whatever medical care he requires," Rajamarthandan's counsel Bibaswan Deka told The Telegraph.
The senior police officer was arrested on Friday on charges of divulging confidential information in reply to an RTI application regarding the arrest of Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samanway Samitee president Subodh Biswas in the Silapathar case.
A daylong rally by the Samitee, demanding that the names of Hindu Bengalis be unconditionally removed from the list of D (doubtful) voters, at Silapathar in Dhemaji district had turned violent on March 6 when its activists clashed with some supporters of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU).
Eight persons were injured in the violence and the AASU office at Silapathar was damaged.
Subodh was arrested on March 22 from a village in Bengal's North 24 Parganas. He and his accomplice Subhash Biswas were produced before a Dhemaji court today and remanded in judicial custody for two weeks.
The Samitee's state president, Sahadev Das, and secretary Benimadhab Roy, who were arrested from Siliguri on Saturday, were also produced in the Dhemaji court today and remanded in 10 days' police custody.
Rajamarthandan has been charged with criminal conspiracy and forgery for giving away "confidential" information about the investigation into the Silapathar violence, in response to an RTI query from the Samitee's general secretary Ambika Ray, despite the CID being exempted from the purview of the RTI Act.
Rajamarthandan was heading the special investigation team formed to probe the Silapathar case.
Rajamarthandan, a 2006-batch IPS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, has mostly served in Meghalaya.
He was repatriated to Assam in 2015 after a two-year stint in the CBI.
A doctor and radiologist by qualification, Rajamarthandan was investigating the high-profile Louis Berger case.