Bengali poet Srijato
Bandyopadhyay, whose presence at a literary event in Assam's
Silchar created a controversy, on Sunday alleged that freedom
of expression in the country is under "increasing threat".
Bandyopadhyay, who was at Silchar in Barak Valley, to
attend a literary discussion on Saturday evening, faced
protests from a group for his 2017 poem titled 'Abhishaap'
(Curse), officials said.
"I am shocked. I had not anticipated there will be
such an incident in a place like Silchar. There was no inkling
beforehand... There is an increasing effort to curb freedom of
expression in the country," he told reporters here.
Bandyopadhyay said during the function, a group of
people, sitting among the audience, stood up, started shouting
slogans against the poem and even tried to vandalise hotel
"The protesters, who did not carry any party flag or
banner, then laid the hotel under siege for two-and-half-hours
demanding I leave the place immediately. They were finally
dispersed by the police force," the poet said.
He said while there was no threat to freedom of
expression in West Bengal, he is concerned about the situation
in rest of the country.
"We are increasingly moving into an intolerant society
where some people will always stop you from speaking your mind
and take away your right to freedom of speech," Bandyopadhyay
Coming out in support of Bandyopadhyay, Jnanpith
awardee and poet Shankha Ghosh said all right-thinking people
should resist the attempts to "muzzle artistic freedom".
Poet Subodh Sarkar said writers in the city will hit
darkness in the country.