• Bengali Poet Srijato Bandopadhyay Heckled in Assam by Right-wing Group

    The Pro-Hindu group attacked the poet alleging that one of his poems had insulted ‘Hindu gods’

    Newsclick Report

    January 15, 2019

    Bengali poet Srijato Bandopadhyay was heckled at a literary event in Silchar, Assam, last week-end. According to the police, his presence at the event drew strong protests from a group of local people over one of his controversial poems.

    Bandopadhyay was the chief guest at the event which was organised to celebrate the inauguration of a local organisation, Eso Boli (Let’s Talk), which will conduct debates, quizzes, and literary events in the area. The event was held at the Riya Palace hotel in Silchar.

    The hooliganism was allegedly caused by All Assam Bengali Hindu Association, led by their president Basudeb Sharma. They were protesting against an old poem written by the poet, called ‘Abhishaap’ (curse), alleging that the poem insults Hindu gods. According to the poet, the only thing the angry people wanted to know was why he was invited to the literary event and demanded an explanation for his two-year-old controversial poem.

    According to local media, Sharma got on the podium and took the microphone from the anchor and started asking Bandopadhyay why he had written a poem insulting a Hindu god. Several members of the audience asked Sharma and his group to ask their questions after the event, which led to a verbal duel. The cops deployed outside the hotel then took the protestors out and locked the hall, while the poet and more than 150 guests remained inside.

    After being removed from the venue, the vandals started throwing stones at the hotel from outside and broke several window panes. According to the poet, the police were able to rescue him after three hours. He mentioned in a Facebook post that the locals inside the hall, especially the women, guarded him as the people outside continued to throw stones at the hotel.

    The poem had drawn flak when the poet had posted it on his Facebook page, two years ago. An FIR was lodged against him in March, 2017 by 20-year-old Arnab Sarkar, who is a member of Hindu Samhati, a Right-wing group. The complainant had filed a case at the Cyber Crime Police Station of northern West Bengal’s Siliguri Police Commissionerate, alleging that the poet had used derogatory remarks about Hindu religion and his poem was nothing but an attack on the religious sentiments of Hindus.

    The vandalism has been strongly condemned by social media users. CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the “fascist BJP government” of “trying to gag the voices of the opposition.”


    First published in Newsclick.

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