ATS Chief concedes “burst of over-enthusiasm” on part of Nagpur ATS: IAWS press release

A small victory, but heartening in these times to see what solidarity and concerted political action can achieve…
But still worrying given that ATS Chief Rakesh Maria seems to be back-tracking, if he is correctly quoted in the Mumbai Mirror yesterday (see below), which is why the IAWS has issued this press release.

(Clarification – This is a random image and not from the IAWS National Conference! But if anybody can send us some pix from the Wardha Conference, that would be great.)

Press Release dated 28 January 2011 by IAWS

In view of the reports in the media (TOI Nagpur edition 26 January 2011), that the ATS Nagpur unit has filed a case under section 14 and 7 of the Foreigners Registration Act against
a) one of our Executive Committee members, Dr. Ilina Sen, Head of the Department of Women’s Studies, MGAHV, Wardha, and
b) the in-charge of the Accommodation Committee, Professor Manoj Kumar
during the 13th National Conference of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS) held at Wardha from 20-24 January 2011,

the IAWS initiated action by issuing a press statement expressing our shock and condemning the police action.

Alongside, 4 members of the IAWS, including our coordinators of the academic programme as well as an invited plenary speaker – Chayanika Shah, Nandini Manjrekar, Nandita Shah and Sanober Keshwaar – in coordination with the Executive Committee members who were still at Wardha, met with Shri Rakesh Maria at the ATS Head Quarters at Mumbai on 25 January 2011, and explained to him the situation of the unwarranted police entry of the premises of the conference and accommodation venues, questioning of participants, and harassment meted out to our colleagues.

Shri Maria gave us the following clarifications and assurances:
1. That under s.7 of the Foreigners Act, only those who provide accommodation against payment to foreigners, i.e. managers of hotels, dharmashalas, boarding houses, etc. can be prosecuted for not informing the police. In the light of this, Ilina Sen cannot be charged under this Act. He said that the officer Shri Totre (who filed the FIR) had implicated Ilina in a burst of overenthusiasm.
2. Mr. Maria had asked for the papers, which had been brought to him by Shri Totre himself. He said that he had also directed the Superintendent of Police, Wardha, in writing not to proceed against Ilina in this case. And he also said that he would be taking the necessary legal steps to close the case against Ilina.
3. He specifically requested us to assure Ilina that she should not fear arrest as charges will not be pressed against her. He also said that if he had wanted to arrest her, they knew she was in Bilaspur for her husband’s case and they could have easily done so.

Out of abundant caution, we sent a fax to Shri Maria summarizing these points to place these on record prior to 26 January. However, given the statements attributed to him today in the postings of the Mumbai Mirror Bureau, we feel we need to release his assurances to the public.

We are also deeply concerned that managers of hotels and dharmashalas, who have provided the details when asked, should nevertheless be victimized needlessly on the basis of a technical offence.

Samita Sen (General Secretary) on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies

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