KOLKATA, Jan 14 (IANS): Poets, elocutionists and theatre personalities on Monday held a protest meeting to strongly condemn the vandalism at poet Srijato's programme venue at Assam's Silchar and said it is time for the intellectual community to be united and stand against the rising fascism in the country.
Bandyopadhyay was held hostage for more than three hours in Assam's Silchar after several people from alleged right-wing organisations protested against his participation in an event on Saturday night.
Terming the attack in Bandhopadhyay's programme as an act of intolerance spread by the "fascist Hindutva forces" in India, eminent Bengali poet Subodh Sarkar said the people who resorted to vandalism have the same mindset of those who have conducted "systematic attacks" on intellectuals and free thinkers in the country in the last four-and-a-half years.
"We have nothing against the people of Assam and Silchar. I have performed there many times. People there are extremely open-minded. Srijato was not attacked by them. The attack was conducted by Hindutva hardliners, who are supported by the ruling regime at the Centre," said Sarkar.
"These organisations are trying to run a 'Hindutva project' in the country. They murdered Gauri Lankesh, attacked Tamil author Perumal Murugan and asked actor Naseeruddin Shah to go and live in Pakistan a few days back," he said, adding that as a protest, he would read out Bandyopadhyay's poems in the Assam Sahitya Sabha's annual programme, to be held next month.
Poet Joy Goswami, who could not be present at the meeting due to other engagements, sent a letter of condemnation, where he urged the intellectual community in Bengal to stand united against fundamentalism.
Terming Srijato as a powerful poet who brings forth the dark sides of our society in his writings, Goswami said it is shameful that poets have to be rescued by policemen in a democracy.
Renowned playwright and director Chandan Sen said it is time for the poets and theatre artists to voice their protest against the "increasing pro-Hindutva onslaught" through their art.
"We are living in an increasingly dangerous time. It is not the time for poets and dramatists to write only about nature or everyday life. They must repeatedly highlight such dark sides and crisis situations in today's society," he noted.
Elocutionist Sovan Sundar Basu, musical artist Pranati Thakur, poet Angshuman Kar was also present at the protest meeting among others.
Bandyopadhyay's presence at a literary event entitled 'Esho Boli (let's speak up) in Silchar drew strong protests from a group of local people over one of his controversial poems, the Assam Police said.
He was safely escorted later.