Kolkata today witnessed a spontaneous protest from intellectuals,civil society members,writers,authors,stage personalities,students and various social organizations against the rape and murder of a college girl in Barasats Kamduni and the sharply deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
The rally was led by familiar faces who had,six years ago,registered their protest in similar fashion against the deaths of villagers in police firing in Nandigram and atrocities in Singur.
Many of these personalities were advocates of change at that time. Now,post-poriborton,they hit the streets again,this time to protest against the atmosphere of increasing intolerance and impatience,of threat and power by the ruling party in the face of criticism.
As thousands marched from College Square in the north and ended in downtown Esplanade,a distance of 2.4 km,traffic came to a halt. Some quarters claimed this was the largest rally the city had seen since the new government took over in 2011.
The rally was partly silent as planned by the intellectuals and partly vociferous as students from various universities chanted slogans,demanding justice for the victims of violence and action from the government.
In the meantime,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was addressing public rallies as part of the panchayat poll campaign in the districts.
Apart from intellectuals and citizens,villagers of Kamduni and Gede,too,participated in the rally. Two recent incidents of gangrape and murder took place at Kamduni in Barasat and Gede in Nadia.
The rally was led by poet Sankha Ghosh,who had came out in protest against the Nandigram massacre in 2007. He had supported Mamata Banerjee then.
In the past six years,Ghosh did not join any political party or attend any political meeting. Octogenarian Ghosh today said,I felt the need to protest and that is why I am here today. I cancelled my prior commitments and joined the rally.
Another highlight of the rally was the presence of a leader of the Shahbag Square movement in Bangladesh. Khaledur Rahman Shakil,a student from Dhaka,said,When I heard that intellectuals were holding a rally protesting crime against women,I decided to join it. Our organisation is also taking out a rally on the same issue in Dhaka today.
Director Mrinal Sen also extended his support. Sen,91,said,I would have attended the meeting if I was not ill. But I am associated with rally. I feel that our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has started fearing people and that is why she is making this kind of comments.
Mamata,who visited Kamduni village 10 days after the rape-murder,had termed the women protesters CPM and Maoists.
Author Samaresh Majumdar said,I am walking in the rally today as I feel ashamed of the incident in which a college student was brutally raped and murdered. Our chief minister visited the village after 10 days,but lost her patience when the villagers wanted to talk to her. I believe no government can suppress spontaneous protest of the people.
Veteran economist Ashok Mitra and theatre personality Rudraprasad Sengupta also participated in the rally.