Kolkata: Protests are an integral part of the lives of Bengalis. But on Friday evening protestors campaigning for ‘No Vote To Babul Supriyo’ were in for a surprise, when at least 26 protestors including three women, who had been instrumental for the No Vote To BJP campaign during last year’s assembly polls were arrested by Kolkata Police.
And this happened despite the civil rights activists had taken permission for the event from the Election Commission.
People of Bengal are aware of the fact that No Vote To BJP had played a major role in helping Trinamool Congress get the historic mandate in the 2021 assembly election.
However, after returning to power for the third consecutive time, TMC inducted Babul Supriyo, a former minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet and BJP MP from Asansol. Supriyo, has been accused by the Mamata governmentt for his alleged role in the Asansol riots, during which a minor son of an imam was killed. The move did make Muslims uncomfortable in Bengal.
Later, when Subrata Mukherjee, a former minister and MLA from the Ballygunge constituency died, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced Babul Supriyo as a TMC candidate. Ballygunge has significant numbers of minority voters and is a deciding factor too. After the decision of the TMC chief, the No Vote To Babul Supriyo campaign began on social media.
A protest was scheduled at 4 pm at Park Circus, near Arsalan Hotel, but before it could start, Beniapukur Police station officials arrested Prasenjit Bose, Manzar Jameel, Imtiaz Mollah, Amitava Chakraborty, Faisal Khan, Amit Dasgupta and some others. While the protest call was given by Nagrik Manch, the same sets of activists were also part of the No Vote To BJP and No NRC campaign in the state.
“We were going to conduct a peaceful rally, but before we could start the event we had been arrested, is it democracy?” asked Prosenjit Bose, economist and social activist.
While Manzar Jameel, another activist informed eNewsroom, “On our call to No Vote To BJP and Babul Supriyo when we were putting banners, police came to us and said, what is it? We said it was a call, then the police expressed surprise and said these things will not happen. Come with us, you are arrested.”
“We had neither raised any slogan nor marched anywhere, but before that, we were arrested by the police. Mamata Didi wants to make Bengal, like UP,” added an angry Jameel.
After 9 pm, all were released after filing personal bonds. After getting released, Jameel informed that they had the permission from Election Commission for the event.
Another activist, Rafay Siddiqui, who was also present at the site but somehow managed to escape from the police, told eNewsroom, “For Mamata government when No Vote To BJP campaign was going on, and it reached to every district of the state in four-five months, they had no issue, but as soon as No Vote To BJP begun, they stopped it undemocratically.”
Saira Shah Halim, Left backed CPM candidate termed the incident, as democracy being ‘shattered’.
While Congress candidate Kamruzzaman Choudhury condemned the arrest and expressed his solidarity with the activists.
Bangla Sanskriti Mancha, a non-government organization that works for human and civil rights also condemned it.
There will be a press conference on Saturday at Press Club by the activists.