On Wednesday, February 8, 2012, Greenpeace activists in Kolkata set out to do an awareness drive. They were outside the Writers Building, talking about the state's need to oppose the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) bill.

Police threatens activists in Kolkata

The activists however were stopped even before they started. The police hauled all of them, including the photographer, into vans and took them to the central lock-up. The activists spent 9 hours in the lock-up.

It was the first Greenpeace activity for photographer Arko Datto. He penned down his thoughts in the lock-up, awaiting his uncertain release from detention.

From the prison floor

Activists in the lock-up at Lalbazar police station in KolkataEvening setting in. Sitting on the cold dark dank floor of Lalbazar Central Lock-Up. Been more than 7 hours.


Bitten to death by bed-bugs lying low inside the folds of frugal blankets supplied by the repressive State machinery.

First time covering for Greenpeace. Plan: peaceful protest meet in front of Writer's Building, Kolkata against proposed BRAI bill.

Police refuse to grant permission. Tear posters. Hassle activists.

Sidewalk. Waiting for our cars to take us away. Police van parks up beside us.

Push activists in. Reason: troublemakers, lairs.

Push me inside van with particular vengeance. Reason: documenting what was happening.

Irony: same Detention Cell where our present Chief Minister spent many a day. Fighting a decadent communist regime.

Stuck here. No charges against us. None that we know of.

No respite in sight. None yet.


Images: © Arko Datto / Greenpeace