Mr. Anirban Roy, popularly known as Roddur Roy, is a Bengali vlogger with 3.28 lakh subscribers on YouTube and 4.91 lakh followers on Facebook. He is known for his social commentary on CAA-NRC-NPR laws, mob lynching, farmers’ protests and environmental degradation. He has consistently criticised the state and central governments on several occasions over price rise, political violence, response to the COVID-19 pandemic and so on. He regularly uses unparliamentary language during his social commentary.
HRDA issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on June 17, 2022 over the Mr. Roy’s arrest on June 7. The Kolkata Police arrested Mr. Roy from Goa, where he was living for the past year and was brought to Kolkata the following evening. He was remanded to six days in police custody. The arrests were made on the basis of complaints registered by Trinamool Congress Party spokesperson Mr. Riju Dutta and Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mr. Shantanu Sen.
Mr. Roy had hosted two live sessions on Facebook on June 2 and June 3 on singer composer Krishnakumar Kunnath’s death, who died after performing at a concert in Kolkata on May 31. In his live session he blamed the Trinamool Congress government for mismanagement, singling out several ministers and party leaders.
Police records show that initially the HRD was charged under IPC sections 120b (party to criminal conspiracy), 153 (provocation with intent to riot), 417 (cheating), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), 505 (public mischief) and 509 (insult modesty of a woman). On June 6, the police applied before a magistrate’s court to add section 153a (promoting enmity) and sections 465, 467, 468 and 489 of the IPC – all of which are related to forgery.
We believe that Kolkata Police abused its power and violated the right to freedom of speech and expression of Mr. Roy for being critical of the state government. The manner in which he was booked under additional charges of provocation to break law and order and forgery raises also further questions about the intent of the police.
We urged the Hon’ble Commission to direct the investigation wing of the NHRC to initiate an immediate, independent, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the arrest and to consider exercising Section 12 (b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and intervene in the relevant courts to defend vlogger and social commentator Mr. Roddur Roy.