IN a statement issued on December 23, prominent artists of Bengal film industry, noted that the way in which the organisers of the Ajmer Literature Festival in Rajasthan, buckling under the pressure of some militant ‘Hindutva’ groups, called off an event set to be addressed by veteran thespian Naseeruddin Shah, is a matter of great concern for all those who want to see our country strong and united rather than fragmented. The 68-year old actor was due to deliver the keynote address at the beginning of the festival on December 21. According to media reports, some Hindutva outfits have forced the organisers to call off the event threatening dire consequences should they fail to comply.
One of the most admired cultural figures in India today, Naseeruddin Shah, as a responsible well-thinking citizen, has always been unequivocal in striking notes of caution when things have gone wrong and the socio-political system needed correction. This voice, the most humane of voices, rang out loud and clear regarding a recent incident of communal violence. This anti-Naseeruddin offensive is only a part of the grand design of the fissiparous forces who want to stifle the voices of conscience, defy the voices of sanity, poison the composite culture of India and thereby strengthen the hands of the enemies of our country. Time has come to stand in unison in protest against the hooliganism of these divisive agencies. We appeal to people involved in all spheres of creative activities to stand in solidarity with this extraordinary person who has been undaunted in crying out against the forces who are trying to divide our country on communal lines. We unequivocally condemn the communalists who want to curtail freedom of speech and curb individual freedom for the sake of narrow political gains.
Signatories to the statement include: Soumitra Chatterjee, Tarun Majumdar, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Samik Bandyopadhyay, Kamaleswar Mukherjee, Anik Dutta, Paran Bandyopadhyay, Kaushik Sen, Meghnad Bhattacharya, Arun Mukhopadhyay, Chandan Sen (director), Chandan Sen (actor), Badsha Maitra, Debdut Ghosh, Bimal Chakraborty, Sima Mukhopadhyay, Asit Basu, Kuntal Mukhopadhyay, Shuvendu Maity, Saurav Palodhi, Turna Das, Sangramjit Sengupta, Dilip Chakraborty, Bhadra Basu and Mandakranta Sen.