IANS

Bengali poet Srijato’s presence at Assam event draws protests (Lead)

Kolkata, Jan 14 (IANS) Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay’s presence at a literary event in Assam’s Silchar drew strong protests from a group of local people over one of his controversial poems, police said on Sunday.

“The people had gathered at the literary meet on Saturday and demanded an explanation for certain lines of Srijato’s poem. The poet’s safety was taken care of,” an officer of Silchar police station said.

Sharing the experience of the event, Bandyopadhyay on Sunday said: “Many outsiders had gathered on the stage and they created a ruckus with the organisers. They resorted to sloganeering outside the hotel and ransacked the property and we could not step out.”

He said that it was not possible to identify the group of people as they had carried no flags or banners.

According to him, the only thing they wanted to know why the poet was invited and demanded an explanation for his two-year-old controversial poem.

In 2017, a police complaint was lodged against Bandyopadhyay for posting a 12-line poem titled “Abhishaap” (curse) in Facebook. Complainant Arnab Sarkar — said to be a member of a Hindu right-wing group — had filed a case at the Cyber Crime Police Station of northern West Bengal’s Siliguri Police Commissionerate.

“I had faced protests earlier but never expected it to flare up again. The issue is being deliberately brought up and the present days seem to be very dark for the people who express themselves freely,” the Bengali poet said.

Condemning the act Sahitya Akademi awardee Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay said: “We all are supporters of free thinking. Self-restraint is like suicide. It is not possible and such incidents make us feel like we are living in anarchy.”

Poet Subodh Sarkar said that the entire fraternity of writers will protest against it.

“The way Hindutva activists have been harassing writers, teachers and journalists since last four and half years, it is akin to sheer fascism. Writers and intellectuals from Kolkata will strongly protest against Srijato’s ordeal,” Sarkar said.

–IANS
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