Kolkata On Fire


“Everything is entitled to everything, everything is for everyone in this world… nothing is dispensable…” India has stepped into a new era after completing her 60 years of independence. People have been awarded the right to live their lives according to their choice. Yet, in this free country there are sections of people who are clamoring for their rights to live a life according to their free will.

Kolkata acquired a total bloody picture on Wednesday 21st Nov, 2007 due to few protestors and opportunist groups. There were day long attacks- with feints, sudden surges and retreats. The script unfolded in the lanes and bylanes of East and Central Kolkata, where police were cramped for space.

Nandigram was the real cause of the protest along with Taslima Nasreen’s extension of VISA. Nandigram, A small rural district in Purba Mednipore in West Bengal blazed in fire when in March ,2007 the West Bengal government informed the denizens that they would have to leave their lands as those had been handed over to the Salim Group who intended to build a chemical hub in that area. Thereby uproar rose, predominantly among the agricultural populace. The villagers, who had been predominantly supporters of the party in power, CPI(M), turned against it and organized a resistance movement under the banner of the newly formed Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee or BUPC (literally, Committee for the Resistance to Eviction from Land). The consternation regarding this issue got reflected in the row created by the protest marchers on Wednesday.

Added to that, another group of people started a protest march protesting the extension VISA of the famous writer Taslima Nasreen. Police had asked Taslima to leave Kolkata last week but the writer in exile had turned down the plea. She was apparently was irked by the advice and made it clear that she wanted to stay on in Kolkata. The city was rocked by a violent agitation demanding her expulsion on Wednesday.

The police authorities had even suggested her to leave Kolkata for a while and return after the agitations die down. But the writer reportedly refused to budge as she had considered Kolkata to be a safe haven.

Protest marches were conducted throughout the city observing these two causes. But the crowd became unruly when they were prevented from blocking the traffic and jeopardizing the normal life. The City of joy was drowned in unruly pandemonium where the common people suffered immensely; school children were stranded in their schools due to the violent activities of the unruly mob. Initially police had to fire tear gas shells to confirm order in the city. Yet, the Army had to be stationed since the Kolkata police failed to bring the situation under control. A night curfew was clamped in the city following large-scale violence during a shutdown.

With a new day, life in Kolkata is trying to get back its old flavor after a day of terrible violence. Yet, fear is wrecking the Kolkatan heart with one question, ‘Was a pre-planned battle field arranged, to handicap the Kolkatan life.’

Sridatta Gupta