Party workers belonging to the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) staged a protest outside the American Center in central Kolkata Tuesday afternoon, against the killing of George Floyd. Floyd’s killing by police officials in Minneapolis on May 25 spurred wide-scale protests across the United States.
In Kolkata, the protests held by a group of around 50 people came during the fifth phase of the COVID-19 lockdown. “We held posters and some sloganeering. The police were there but they did not object to our protest,” said Srijan Bhattacharya, State Secretary, SFI West Bengal. Government regulations that have been in force during the lockdown do not permit large gatherings. “We were maintaining physical distancing.”
Bhattacharya said SFI and DYFI party members decided to stage a peaceful protest outside the American Center to generate more awareness about the reasons behind the protests in the US and various forms of discrimination. “The fact that (the US police and government) is so unapologetic about it is why people should protest,” said Bhattarcharya. The US government and American police forces across the country have received criticism for their response and apathy following Floyd’s killing, as well for their use of violence and threats against protestors, bystanders and journalists.
Meanwhile, CPIM published a video of spokesperson Mohammed Salim on Monday where the leader spoke about the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and linked it to state-sanctioned violence and police brutality in India. “Due to the lockdown, our democratic rights are being curtailed. In our country, we have majoritarianism. We have supremacy in the name of caste and religion,” said Salim.
Salim said that the protests in the US that occurred following Floyd’s killing were important because it shows the various ways in which people were facing oppression around the world. “It is a learning process for the world. No matter where things happen, it has effects in other places,” he said.
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