People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 47

November 25, 2007

Peace Marchers In Kolkata Defy Heavy Rain,

Call For Amity And Development At Nandigram



SWEEPING away the rugged winds and the heavy rainfall off their backs, close to twenty thousand marchers for peace traversed the streets of the metropolis of Kolkata in the afternoon of November 16. The march was a silent protest as well against the mayhem committed on the villagers of Nandigram over the past eleven months. The peace walkers all called for the commencement early of developmental work at Nandigram.


From octogenarian film-maker Mrinal Sen and septuagenarian theatre personality Soumitra Chatterjee to twenty-something documentary producer Anindita Sarbadhikari and thirty-something actor Badshah Moitra — all leading lights of the Bengal audio-visual media scene, the march was a vast sea of men, women, and children, holding hands, singing mass songs and Rabindrasangeet, and those too young to walk on their own, having merry rides on the mothers’ shoulders. The strong attendance of a large number of the democratic-minded and ordinary citizens of Kolkata who walked by the side of the luminaries certainly added a popular dimension to the occasion.


The presence of a fifty-plus troupe of folk artistes from Nandigram itself brightened even more the darkening evening marked by low clouds and a heavy, slanting rain that poured continuously from a bleak skyline. The vast range of the people taking part in the march stretched from the admired actor Mithun Chakraborty, always with the Left, to former CPI (M-L) leader Azizul Haque who came out from the SSKM hospital to mark his presence on this notable occasion.




Writers, artistes of film and theatre, mime-artistes, colourfully-costumed bauls (bards of rural Bengal), noted and not-so noted poets, painters, singers, popular and classical, elocutionists belonging to various schools, cricket and football players of yesteryear and sports organisers like Chuni Goswami and Pradip Kumar (‘P K’) Banerjee, athletes, the popular illusionist and stage personality P C Sorcar Jr., all walked in the complete tranquillity of silence and without any expression of an anti-thetical outlook on anyone who would not join in, who would demonstrate their disparaging protestations in the media or, worse, would send around text messages on cell phones ‘announcing’ the ‘cancellation of the programme because of inclement weather.’


Arindam Sil, a popular actor and a well-known Left activist told the gathering that he had been at the receiving end of threats and worse with intemperate messages bordering on crass obscenity ‘filling my cell phones to full capacity.’ Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya was present as a member of the legal profession with a large number of his fellow legal luminaries, as was theatre-producer and actor Usha Ganguly. Members of several notable Bangla bands marched in the peace walk, as did very many service professionals, as did a large number of Left students. The presence of youth - organised and otherwise - clearly stood out in the march.




Another popular actor who has also directed films, Dilip Roy, a staunch soldier of the progressive brigade in Tollywood as elsewhere, spoke of his unique experience of walking in this march. He said how he was amazed that the marchers would not be provoked at the manner in which the corporate media for some time now, had been engaged in aggressively bantering the programme and had virtually blackballed the organisers.


Noted film and theatre personalities who were not able to take part in the programme because of physical debilities wrote in and declared their staunch support for the cause. A meeting each was held towards the beginning and at the end of the rally, which started from near the Akashvani Bhavan and ended in the Park Street-maidan area. Addressing the meetings amongst others was Bengal LF government’s minister Subhas Chakraborty. (B P)