KOLKATA: City-based actors and activists have written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee protesting against police action on teachers and a recent attack on an actor.
Many of the signatories to the letter including filmmaker Aparna Sen were among the 49 celebrities who had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on rising cases of mob lynching.
According to the civil society members, the letter is an attempt to draw the chief minister's attention towards an incidence of violence where police resorted to a lathi-charge on a group of protesting teachers in Kalyani. The 'para teachers' are demanding permanent status and a salary hike.
"We have been noticing with a great deal of anxiety that, instead of trying to resolve the peaceful democratic protests of teachers of this state through sane dialogue and debate, the administration has been resorting to undemocratic means of quashing these protests through police brutality," the civil society members of the CitizenSpeakIndia forum wrote.
"On 19th August, the hunger strike platform being organised at Subodh Mallick Square by part-time teachers of colleges and universities, was forcibly stopped by the police and some of the participants were picked up," the letter said.
Condemning another incident of an attack on an actor, they wrote: "On 15th August 2019, at the Academy of Fine Arts complex, three small street plays were enacted at the initiative of 'Actors United' in front of a gathering united against communalism and fundamentalism. Shubhankar Das Sharma, a member of 'Actors United', was attacked and beaten by unknown assailants at Dum Dum while returning home at the end of the performance".
The intellectuals called the incident an attack on all artistes propagating free thought that 'should be condemned with the same severity as any case of lynching anywhere else in India'.
"We condemn the incidents of violence mentioned above, and request the state administration to identify and punish the perpetrators as swiftly as possible," they added.
Other signatories to the letter included actors Koushik Sen, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Riddhi Sen, and activists Bolan Gangopadhyay and Rupsha Dasgupta.