Voicing concern over the recent spate of clashes and attacks in West Bengal, a group of prominent personalities has written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, seeking her intervention in putting an end to the “long despicable tradition of political violence” in the state.
In the letter written in Bengali, several actors, directors and poets said the CM, “who had been able to counter the threat of majoritarian divisive politics in 2021 assembly polls and raised hope and expectation among people” should be able to find a solution to stop the recurrence of such incidents.
West Bengal has seen a surge in violent crimes of late, with a student leader getting killed in February, two councillors dying of bullet injuries in early March and Bogtui violence, that claimed nine lives two weeks ago.
The signatories to the letter, sent to the CM on Friday, included director-activist Aparna Sen, national award-winning actor Riddhi Sen, director Suman Mukhopadhyay, actor-director Parambrata Chatterjee, poet-lyricist Srijato Bandopadhyay and singer-composer Anupam Roy, among others.
“While the administration has been prompt in giving compensation to the affected and taking remedial steps in this (Bogtui) incident, the question remains unanswered about how such an incident could have happened, and whether such ghastly and brutal demonstration of political violence could have been avoided,” said an extract from the letter.
“We believe you are aware that the signatories of this letter don’t have any political or partisan interest. As panchayat polls are due in 2023, it is the duty of the ruling party and administration to avert (a) repeat of such incidents,” the signatories stated.
Aparna Sen later told reporters that the letter was written to the CM on behalf of those who believe in democracy.
“We believe it is our duty to voice our anguish, worry and concern over some of the recent incidents in the state, including the brutal violence in Bogtui. We are speaking on behalf of the people of the state, on behalf of the members of civil society who believe in democracy and a peaceful political atmosphere.”
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar, on his part, said that he was happy to see the “intellectuals finally waking up to the situation” in Bengal.
He, however, added that “whether this was a letter of protest against the orgy of violence or anything else, I am leaving it to the people to decide”.
TMC spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said that “the concern expressed by a section of intellectuals is natural. But we assure them the Mamata Banerjee government is committed to ensuring justice for the families of the victims. The CM took necessary measures to instill confidence among the victims’ families. She had ordered disciplinary action against police officers. There had been several mass murders in the state during the rule of United Front, Congress and Left front, including those in Sai Bari, Marichjhapi, Bijon Setu, Keshpur, Garbeta, Nandigram and Netai. Nowhere the then CMs had shown such concern,” Roy claimed.