At least 70 intellectuals were arrested by police on Sunday for protesting against the violence perpetrated in Nandigram by the Communist Party of India-Marxist activists and calling for a boycott of the 13th Kolkata Film Festival.
The festival that got underway on Saturday has been more in news for the calls for boycott from the intellectuals of Bengal than for the films on show.
Some 70 intellectuals, including artist Subhaprasanna, director- singer Anjan Dutta, actors Parambrata Chatterjee, Bidipta Chakraborty and poet Joy Goswami, were arrested in 'apprehension of unlawful activities,' while they were leading a procession towards Nandan.
Bidipta Chakroborty said, "We were singing revolutionary songs protesting the bloodshed perpetrated in Nandigram by the CPM cadres in their effort to reclaim the lost land. Suddenly, the police came and tried to stop us and then arrested us and forcibly packed us off in police vans."
The 100-strong intelligentsia sang We shall Overcome and a Bengali version of Bob Dylan's Blowing in the wind, when they were arrested. Incidentally, the Communist government in West Bengal has always promoted mass songs and revolutionary songs.
The incident took place when the intelligentsia protesting in Esplanade alongside Medha Patkar went towards Nandan, the cultural hub of the city where the film festival is currently underway, protesting the holding of the festival when people were dying in Nandigram in state sponsored violence.
Subhaprasanna said, "This is ridiculous and heartless. How can one celebrate a film festival with blood on his hands? We all love films, but we protest the shameless holding of festival in this dark hour. We wanted to tear open the false image that the state was trying to project before the international fora."
They were later taken to the Lalbazar station and a case registered under Cr PC 155 stating that they were arrested apprehending unlawful activities.
A host of intellectuals led by Aparna Sen, Gautam Ghose and Sankha Ghosh went to Lalbazar and are mediating for the release of the intellectuals.
Aparna sen said, "We have talked to the police and they have told us that they will be released in an hour. They have been arrested for singing and protesting against Nandigram violence, as police apprehended unlawful activity."
Gautam Ghose reciprocated Sen's feelings stating, "I had thought of seeing some good films in the festival. But after what the police did on Sunday to the peaceful demonstration, I decided to stand by them."
"The CPM may be ruling the state, but the state belongs to us," said Sen sharing the dais with Patkar, Magsaysay award winner author Mahasweta Devi and host of other intellectuals.
The churning from the intelligentsia in Bengal continued with Mousumi Chatterjee becoming the latest to vent her ire on the way CPM spilled blood.
The silver-screen actress told UNI, "What is happening in Nandigram is inhuman. How can anyone who belongs to Bengal be a mute party to it? The way blood has been spilled of common people is sad, is brutal. The way CPM has behaved is barbaric. How, can this rule of the jungle continue in West Bengal? I want to extend my solidarity with the people protesting the war on humanity."
The intelligentsia of Bengal led by Bibhas Chakraborty, Aparna sen, Kaushik Sen, Bratta Basu, Tarun Sanyal and their lot have joined social activist Medha Patkar in their protest against the CPM-led blood spill in Nandigram as the 'Harmat Bahini' (mercenaries) attacked the peaceful Bhumi Uchched Protirodh Committee procession.
Over the past week, the CPM has launched a bloody offence against the BUPC to regain its lost 'bases.' Their cadres entered village after village and allegedly torched houses belonging to the rival groups.
Violence in Nandigram has claimed 34 lives since January, when the region first flared up over proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone.