A section of intellectuals in Bengal on Sunday held a meeting condemning a BJP youth leader's offer of bounty for beheading Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the armed processions brought out by Hindu rightwing organisations on the occasion of Ram Navmi.
Poets, singers and educationists gathered at the base of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in the Maidan area and appealed to the people to maintain peace and communal amity and unite against the rising fundamentalism in the country.
Sharply criticising the Hindu hardline outfits, Academy award winning poet Subodh Sarkar said: "The way even teenage boys and girls were handed over weapons and made to walk on the streets, that's very dangerous."
Sarkar announced that a rally would be taken out by the intellectuals from the city cultural hub College Street in the next few days in protest against efforts to polarise society on the basis of religion.
Academician Pradip Narayan Ghosh said some outfits were trying to get votes by using religion. "This is incorrect politics."
Singer Pratul Mukhopadhyay, referring to the bounty offered by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader Yogesh Varshney for Banerjee's head after police clashed with people taking part in a Hanuman Jayanti rally in West Bengal's Birbhum district, said: "But I feel when such fatwas are issued, it only shows that we are treading the right path."
Indian Statistical Institute professor Abhiroop Sarkar said one fundamentalist force cannot be the answer to another such force. "It is unfortunate that we are seeing the rise of fundamentalism in opposition to another brand of fundamentalism."
Celebrated poet Nirendranath Chakraborty and writer and indologist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri sent messages expressing solidarity with the cause of the meeting.
Taking a swipe at the meeting, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and actor George Baker dubbed them as "appendages of the state's ruling Trinamool Congress".
"When so many rape cases were taking place, then except a couple of them who took out candle light processions, the others were not seen on the streets. Now because Ram Navmi processions have attracted thousands of people, they are expressing annoyance."
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