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Bengali poet alleges harassment at Silchar event

Published : Jan 14, 2019, 1:01 am IST
Updated : Jan 14, 2019, 1:01 am IST

Demonstrators unleashed vandalism during which glass panes of the hotel were broken.

Srijato Bandyopadhyay
 Srijato Bandyopadhyay

Kolkata: Young Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay alleged on Sunday that he was heckled and was confined at Silchar in Assam by the members of a suspected right-wing group which protested against his participation in an event on Saturday evening.

He was the guest of honour for the inauguration of a recitation event “Eso Boli” (Come, let’s speak up). On Saturday morning, the outfit had submitted a memorandum to the administration officials in Silchar district to call off the event.

But the event’s organisers went ahead. Recalling the horror, Mr Srijato said: “When I reached Silchar, I came to know that some people were spewing venom against me on various social networking sites since morning.”

He narrated: “In the evening when the event went underway, some people appeared at the venue, hotel Riya Palace. Storming the banquet hall, they asked me why I wrote a controversial poem earlier.”

Mr Srijato elaborated: “The gentleman who was chairing the discussion reminded them to ask no questions. Then the hotel staff forced them to leave.”

Though the demonstrators were out of the venue, they started protesting outside the hotel. They unleashed vandalism during which the glass panes of the hotel were broken. This left Mr Srijato and other guests confined there for some hours. The poet appreciated chief minister Mamata Banerjee for ringing him and providing assistance to him immediately.

A police team, led by additional superintendent of police (Silchar) Rakesh Reddy, rushed to the hotel and escorted him safely to the circuit house. Mr Srijato added: “My flight was even preponed so that I could leave the city and catch the first flight.”

About his experience he mentioned: “I am not scared by the event in Assam. I am rather deeply shocked to find no space for free speech.”

Renowned poet Joy Goswami condemned the incident. Eminent actor Koushik Sen described the attackers as “coward and brutal.”

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