Fact-finding Report on Alleged Torture of Charulata Mohapatra against Subas Mohapatra, Human Rights Activist, Odisha
On 7.8.17, in an impromptu Press meet organised in Bhubaneswar, capital city of Odisha, Charulata Mohapatra, claimed to be wife of Subas Mohapatra, Human Rights Activist alleged that Sri Mohapatra had married her following vedic rites and rituals on 29th January, 2003. After 15 days of marriage, he and his mother started torturing her and demanded more dowries from her parents. Subas carried her to Chhatisgarh and continuously tortured her and after 3 months of marriage, when she was pregnant, Subas sent her back to her parental house. Since that period, he is not in touch with her. Though he is blessed with a girl, Subas has never come to meet his daughter. Charulata also further alleged that without divorce, Subas married another girl Akriti Das in Raipur. That marriage also did not last. Akriti had filed a case in Raipur Mahila police station and Subas was also arrested during that time. In the meantime, Subas had third marriage and staying in Bhubaneswar with his wife and two children. Findinging very difficult to sort out the issues with Subas after long persuasion by her parents, Charulata filed maintenance case in Puri family court. The Court has disposed the case and directed Subas Mohapatra, husband to pay Rs. 3,000.00 per month. But Subas has been ignoring the order of the Family court. When she lodged complaint to local police station, Subas along with another unidentified person abused her with slang language and threatened to murder her, unless she withdrew the case.
Having heard the news about allegation of a lady against Subas Mohapatra, a known Human Rights Activist, the Activists’ groups got astonished, expressed their concern and wanted to find out fact which prompted to form a fact-finding team for a thorough investigation into the whole episode.
2.The Members of Fact-findIng Team
A. Pradip Pradhan, RTI Activist, Team Leader
B. Sri Sudhir Mohanty, Advocate, Odisha High Court
C. Sri Ashok Nanda, Social Activist
D. Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi, Woman Activist
3. The issues before the Committee
a. To ascertain the fact about allegation of torture made by Charulata Mohapatra against Subas Mohapatra.
b. Circumstances or compulsion, if any leading to organise impromptu Press Meet by Charulata Mohapatra in Bhubaneswar on 7.8.17.
c. Timing and necessity of the Press Meet in Bhubaneswar and how it was thought of that this Press Meet would help the victim to get justice.
d. Why FIR against Subas Mohapatra was filed in Kanas Police station on 7.8.17 at 9.50 PM after press meet when the incident occurred on 6.8.17 at 7 PM.
e. Involvement and interest of Mamata Samantaray of State Progressive Women Forum in this case.
f. Exploring possibility of intervention of, if any required by Activist Group and taking stand on it.
4. Materials collected and relied by the Team
a. Copy of Press Release circulated in Press Meet organised by Mrs. Charulata Mohapatra on 7.8.17.
b. Copy of Judgement of District Judge court on Divorce petition of Subas Mohapatra,
c. Copy of Judgement of Family Court on Petition of Maintenance filed by Charulata Mohapatra.
d. Copy of FIR filed by Akriti Das, second wife of Subas Mohapatra wh ich was produced by Mamata Samantara and Basant Mohapatra, father of Charulata Mohapatra.
e. Proof Of AirTicket that Subas Mohapatra was in New Delhi
5. Persons interviewed
a. Basant Mohapatra, Father of Charulata Mohapatra, victim
b. Laxmipriya Mohapatra, Mother of Charulata Mohapatra
c. Mamata Samantaray, Chairperson, State Progressive Women’s Forum , Bhubaneswar who helped Charulata to organise press meet in Bhubaneswar
d. Subas Mohapatra, Human Rights Activist against whom allegation has been made.
e. Some villagers accompanied the Team during their visit to residence of Mrs Charulata Mohapatra.
6. About Subas Mohapatara
As we know, Subas Mohapatra is a leading Human Rights Activist working on human rights issues since few years. He belongs to Kalamati, a village under Gadishagada police station of Kanas block of Puri district. Presently, he is working as Convener, National Campaign for Ending Corporate Abuse. He has filed a lot of cases of human rights violation in National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission and UN Bodies. Recently Sri Mohapatra has come to limelight and drawn attention of public due to his filing of Case no. 92/2016/EZ in National Green Tribunal, Kolkata against Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology ( KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Science (KISS), and its founder Achyut Samant for illegally grabbing precious forest land in Bhubaneswar and obtained order of NGT on 21st March 2017 to State Govt. to demarcate and acquire the land and undertake fencing around the land. It deserves to be mentioned here that As per CAG Report, more than 100 acres of land has been allotted to KIIT by Dept. of General Administration and IDCO, Bhubaneswar. Leasing out of 82 acres of land is illegal and acquired by Achyut Samant through fraudulent means. Besides that, as per RTI information, Sri Samant has also acquired around 30 acres of forest land illegally without any permission from Dept. of Forest and Environment , Revenue and Disaster Management Dept. of Govt. of Odisha and Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt. of India. Secondly, Sri Mohapatra has also filed another case Writ Petition Case No. 12392/2016 and Misc. case 13575/2017 in Odisha High Court against Sri Nabin Patnaik, Chief Minister and President, Biju Janata Dal for using Hawala money during election. Hearing the case, the High Court has already issued notice to Election Commission of India to enquire into the allegation against Sri Nabin Patnaik. BJD team quite disturbed over the allegation and case filed by Subas Mohapatra in High Court. Since day 1 of filling of case, both Nabin Patnaik, Chief Minister and Achyut Samant, founder, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and their coterie are trying hard to conspire and demoralise Subas Mohapatra by booking him on false case or take any extreme step against him which was reflected in a national TV Live discussion in which Pinaki Mishra, MP openly threatened him of dire consequence.
7. Visit of Fact-finding Team
In this backdrop, on 14.8.17, the 4-member Fact-finding Team visited Kanas block headquarter to meet Charulata Mohapatra, wife of Subas Mohapatra. After reaching in their home, the Team briefed the parents of Charulata Mohapatra about purpose of their visit and wanted to meet her. Intitally, we were told that Charulata would meet us and later on the parents said that she had gone to Bhubaneswar. The Team could not get opportunity to meet Charulata. However, her parents responded all the queries of the Team and shared details of information about incident of disturbance, conflict, suffering of her daughter, pain and agony experienced by them since 13 years etc. The gist of discussion with parents of Charulata Sri Basant Moapatra, father and Laxmipriya Nayak, Mother is as follows.
“ This was arranged marriage and solemnised on 29th January, 2003. Prior to marriage, the parents were appraised that their groom is highly educated and working in NGO in Chhatisgarh. Subas had demanded dowry of Rs. 1 lakh. Basant Mohapatra had given Rs. 70,000.00 and assured him to give rest amount Rs. 30,000.00 after arrangement. After 15 days of marriage, Subas started torturing her wife Charulata to get rest of dowry money. Smt. Charulata returned back to her home. However, Basant Mohapatra, father-in-law gave rest amount by selling landed property and sent her daughter to father-in-law’s house. After few days, Subas Mohapatra, son-in-law started again torturing her. Finally she returned back to home. At that time, she was pregnant. Since then, Charularata had not gone to her in-law’s house. However, the parents of Charulata and their family members have taken several attempts to resolve the issue and pursued Subas for amicable settlements, but in vain.” At last, after eight years, Charulata filed an FIR of physical torture, harassment and dowry torture against Subas Mohapatra in Gadishagada police station under Kanas Block in 2011 ( Case No.-15/2011 dated 14.2.2011. The case was registered under section 494,109, 406, 498 of IPC. Subas was arrested by police and forwarded to jail.
The team members were presented few documents along with Court order. While reviewing the Court order, the Team members found that that Subas Mohapatra had filed a divorce petition case no. 418/2003 on 4.6.2003 in the court of S.D.J.M., Puri which was rejected on 10.4.2007. Then Subas filed Appeal petition case No. RAF 54/2007 which was rejected by District Court on 25.10.2013. So the Court has not accepted the divorce petition of Subas Mohapatra. Charulata still enjoys the status of wife of Subas Mohapatra. On the other hand, Charulata has filed a Maintenance case No. CRP-29/2011 on 14.2.2011. The Family Court, while disposing the case on 15.9.2011, directed Subas Mohapatra to pay maintenance at the rate of Rs. 3,000.00 per month to Charulata Mohapatra and his daughter from the date of filling of the petition i.e., 14.2.2011. The fact is Smt. Charulata as the legal wife of Sri Subas Mohapatra is undisputed in the eye of law today.
From another document, it was also observed that Subas had married another girl named Akriti Das, D/O- Nilakantha Das of Raipur. That marriage also could not last. When Akriti came to know that Subas was having wife and a daughter, she got enraged and filed FIR in Raipur Mahila Police station on 12.12.2008. The case was registered as case No. 41/2008 under section 498(1) and 506 of IPC. There was another case filed in Rajendra Nagar police station in 2009. Arrest warrant was also issued against Subas during that time. Though the Team members tried to know the status of the case, the family could not provide any documents. However, while ending the discussion with the parents of Charulata Mohapatra, the Team members assured them to provide support, in case anything required in order to give her justice.
The Team were also appraised about FIR lodged against Subas Mohapatra in Kanas Police station. The Team members visited Kanas Police station at around 3.30 pm and enquired about the case. The Assistant Sub-Inspector said that an FIR had been filed by Charulata Mohapatra on 7.8.17 at 9.50 PM. The content of the FIR is that On 6.8.17, While Charulata was on her wayback to her house in Kanas market in the evening at 7 PM, Motor-byke borne Subas Mohapatra along with an unidentified youth obstructed and abused her with slang langage and threatened her to murder at gun point, unless she withdrew the case. The police has registered the case under section 341,323,294,354,506,494 of IPC and 34 of Arms Act. The police has started investigation. The Team members hovered over if the incidence took place on 6th August, 2017 at 7 pm, why the FIR was not immediately filed when Kanas police station is just half km away from her house. Secondly, why Charulata suddenly organised Press Meet on 7.8.17. In the press release, she has mentioned about the incidence of threats given by Subas on 6.8.17 at 7 PM and FIR is filed in Gadishagada police station in this regard. It means that the place of occurrence of incidence is under PS Gadishagada which is the police station of Subas Mohapatra. But as per record available, FIR was practically filed in Kanas Police station on 7.8.17 at 9.50 pm after she returned to home finishing press meet in Bhubaneswar.
7. Meeting with Mamata Samantaray, President, SPWF, Odisha
On the way back to Bhubaneswar from Kanas, the Team met Mamata Samantaray in her residence at 5 PM. Mamata was appraised about the purpose of meeting of the Team members. Mamata was asked the following few questions.
· How Mamata came into contact with Charulata Mohapatra, wife of Subas Mohapatra
· Timing of the Press Meet which was organised in Bhubaneswar to highlight a 13 year old case.
· What benefit you and Charulata were expecting from Press Meet.
· How the Press Meet would help Charulata to get justice.
Mamata said that her organisation is a state-level organisation having its membership base in every block of the state, mostly from among SHG leaders. The women leaders of Kanas block of Puri district had appraised this matter several times and sought her support to give justice to Charulata. That’s why she had organised the press meet. On query about how the Press meet helped her to get justice, she could not respond properly. Rather she continued to talk emotionally, describing harassment and problem confronted by Charulata which was not our cup of tea. On query about what type of justice she was expecting from Press Meet when all the court judgements are in favour of Charulata, Mamata could not respond effectively. Rather she told that she only created space for Charulata to speak to press and was unaware about details.
8. Response from Subas Mohapatra, Human Rights Activist and Husband of Charulata Mohapatra
As Sri Subas Mohapatra claims staying in New Delhi, some clarification and response of Subas Mohapatra was sought through E-mail. The following questions were sought from Sri Mohapatra.
a. Response about allegation and charges levelled by Charulata Mohapatra, his wife against him and reason of divorce, non-payment of maintenance to her wife.
b. Authenticity about his threats to Charulata Mohapatra on 6.8.17 at Kanas Market
c. Allegation of second marriage to Akriti Das of Raipur
d. Has he challenged in apex court the judgement of rejection of Divorce petition by District Court and Family Court order on maintenance cost.
Subas responded to our query letter through e-mail and provided some documents. He shared copy of FIR filed in Kanas Police station dated 13.8.17 and copy of online acknowledgement receipt of FIR by Kanas police station. It was found from content of FIR that Subas Mohapatra had filed FIR in Kanas Police station against Charulata Mohapatra and others. A copy of FIR and acknowledgement receipt of FIR by Kanas Police station is attached. Subas denied allegation of making physical attack on Charulata Mohapatra of Kanas/ Gadishagada and said that he was in Delhi on the date of alleged incident. He has also provided copy of boarding pass from Delhi to Srinagar on 1.8.17 and return from Srinagar to New Delhi on 5.8.17 claiming to be on journalistic assignment from Cobra Post. He has sent family photograph of claiming that to be of Akriti Das / Akriti Shukla. He says that he has challenged district court order at higher level but has not sent any supportive document in this regard.
A. It is fact that Subas Mohapatra had married Charulata Mohapatra and filed divorce petition in 2003 in the court. The document revealed that Sri Mohapatra has not yet responded court order in respect of maintenance as well as divorce. Smt. Charulata has every right to fight out the case in order to get justice. She should continue to fight this case. We are of the view that law should take its own course to a logical conclusion in this regard. All possible remedies may be taken to safeguard the interest of Smt. Charulata.
B. In the press release distributed in the press meet, it is mentioned that Subas threatened her to murder at gunpoint to withdraw the case on 6.8.17 at 7 PM in Kanas Market. In fact, there is no such case pending against Subas Mohapatra in any court. The judgement of two courts i.e., District Judge Court and Family Court, Puri is in favour of Charulata. So it seems this is a manufactured story and a ploy to harass and defame Subas Mohapatra.
C. While addressing press meet organised on 7.8.17, Smt. Charulata had said that After threats of attack, she had filed FIR in Gadishagada police station. But FIR has been filed in Kanas police station on 7.8.17 at 9.50 pm after finishing press meet. We are of the view that it is a false and fabricated case to demoralise and harass Subas Mohapatra.
D. The Press Meet is an arranged one to demoralise Subas Mohapatra and or other RTI Activists those are fighting against corruption in administration and Achyut Samant of KIIT disclosing illegalities of powerful people in the state.
E. When a person , irrespective of his or her family problem is fighting against Sri Nabin Patnaik, all powerful Chief Minister and Sri Achyut Samant , a biggest land grabber , he or she should not be demoralised by way of filling of false case and threats of arrest. We are with Subas Mohapatra in his fight against Nabin Patnaik, Chief Minister, Odisha and Achyut Samant, a man masterminded all types of illegalities in the state.
F. We are of the view that RTI Activists and Human Rights Activists who are facing similar kind of harassment and threats from State power or vested groups like Achyut Samant, biggest land grabber must be provided all supports and encouraged to carry their mission in the greater interest of the state. Because during Nabin Patnaik regime, the economy of the state has been disastrous. The socio-economic condition of the common people has been devastating. Odisha still stands as poorest state in the country. When opposition political parties have failed to discharge their duties, RTI Activists and Human Rights Activists have shouldered the responsibility to save the state from clutches of Mining mafia, land mafia and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. The people of Odisha must stand behind them.
Pradip Pradhan Ashok Nanda
RTI Activist Social Activist
M-9937843482 M- 9437005133
Sudhir Mohanty Sanjukta Panigrahi
Advocate, Odisha High Court Woman Activist
M-9861063290 M- 9238598756
Date of Release of Report: 22.8.17