West Bengal – Joint protest letter against attack on theatre worker Bimal Chakraborty and democratic rights

October 24, 2012

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English translation of the open letter

A fish seller, who is an ordinary CPI(M) party worker, went to join a procession of the party. He was threatened by some Trinamul Congress workers that his business would be shut down and was physically harassed. Witnessing these, theatre worker Bimal Chakraborty protested and was subsequently attacked. He is a government employee and was penalised by compulsory waiting. We strongly protest the assault on Bimal Chakraborty and on democratic rights, both at the government and at non-government levels.

The assault of Bimal babu should have been protested unitedly by all theatre workers, which did not happen and it pained many. Moreover, a coterie of people started a ruckus that the issue is getting politicised, that a sectarian line is being adopted. It is true that Bimal babu was not attacked while staging a play, he was meeting social responsibility. Therefore the incident would lose its importance if seen as merely an attack on theatre workers.

Yet, had it not been an attack on a theatre worker perhaps it would have vanished from public attention like so many attacks are disappearing without trace everyday. We welcome the manner the incident has come to the public attention. But many of those who joined this protest were not seen in the procession protesting the police firing of 14th March, 2007 at Nandigram, which was the most lively and emotional protest by cultural activists against assault on democracy. When these people talk of infiltration of ‘politics’ and polarisation within the cultural world it becomes difficult to stand by them.

On the other hand there are those who seek to delegitimize the protests by blowing the CPI(M)-supporters’ role out of proportion. They organise separate and opposite platforms, flex muscle, open ‘Natya-swajan’, supply courage and strength to hooliganism and attack on democratic rights, speak in the language of the rulers. They put the protestors in the same kind of disillusionment as their opposition does.

Today not only the theatre workers, protesting people from every walk of life, in villages and towns are facing relentless attacks from forces of the government or private parties. Democratic rights organisations are also feeling helpless. There is an urgent need to build up a united platform going beyond the rigid party domains.

We, different citizens and organisations of Malda district, send this joint letter for publication in your news paper to this end.

With thanks,

(signed)

Prabhas Choudhury, professor, Malda college
Pradeep Bagchi
Pranab Kumar Das
Malda Samabeta Prayas (theatre group)
Gautam Choudhury, teacher
Ambarin Shabnam, professor
Malda APDR (human rights organisation)
Bikash Choudhury, theatre worker
Bidisha Choudhury, researcher
Dileep Talwar, poet
Aseem Sharma, poet
Maheshwar Bhattacharya, educationist
Subrata Paul