By Dipaneeta Das: A theatre artist in Bengal was allegedly assaulted by Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders for staging a play said to be critical of the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led government in the state. The incident took place on Sunday evening in Nadia district’s Ranaghat.
Theatre artist Nirupam Bhattacharya was allegedly ‘thrashed’ by local TMC leader Dabashish Kahar for staging his play ‘Rashtra-i Kasai’ (the government is the butcher). Bhattacharya was the lead actor and the director of the play.
According to Bhattacharya, he was beaten in front of his home around 11:30 pm on Sunday and his parents were threatened. Bhattacharya lodged a complaint with the police on April 10. However, the police were reluctant to help him, he claimed.
The actor-director shared his experience on Facebook. He wrote that as the play progressed, the TMC leaders “got agitated and started shouting slogans” against the artiste and the theatre group. They accused the group of “spreading anti-government propaganda and demanded that the show be stopped immediately,” Bhattacharya said.
“We have spoken to Nirupam Bhattacharya and asked whether he is interested in filing an FIR or a General Diary (GD). As of now, he is still contemplating his move,” Ranaghat’s superintendent of police said.
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The play was an adaptation of activist-poet Varavara Rao’s poem “Kasai.” Telugu poet Varavara Rao was detained under the UAPA Act for his poems that are critical of the government in 2018 and was granted bail on medical grounds in 2021.
The play highlighted the plight of farmers and criticised the Bogtui incident, Hashkhali rape murders and more. This infuriated the local leaders of the ruling party, sources said.
It also condemned the Centre over incidents such as the Hathras rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh. The leaders, who were reportedly enraged by Bhattacharya’s portrayal of the government, proceeded to beat him mercilessly, leaving him with severe injuries, Nirupam Bhattacharya said.
Speaking to India Today TV, Bhattacharya said, “Goons working with Dabashish Kahar thrashed me brutally earlier this week. Ever since the work was performed at the district theatre festival on February 25, I have garnered the apathy of the ruling brigade. My family and I are living under severe threat.”
“Local panchayat members belonging to the TMC are continuously harassing me. They beat me up because I tried to exercise my freedom of expression,” he said, adding, “The play not only depicts the loopholes in the TMC’s policies, but also that of the BJP. These people do not understand the context. Artistes must be protected. ”
The incident has sparked outrage among the community. Bhattacharya’s supporters have condemned the attack and demanded action against the TMC leaders responsible for it. Many have taken to social media to express their support for him and to call for justice.
“Theatre artist Nirupam has criticised both the Centre and the State. There is no bias. As an artiste, one must have complete freedom of expression, but it was curbed by so-called TMC leaders. I extend my support to Nirupam, and all other theatre artists who suffer from political hindrance to their esteemed work,” said actor-director and theatre artist Kaushik Sen.
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The TMC has denied any involvement in the incident and claimed that Nirupam Bhattacharya is “mentally disturbed”.
Speaking to India Today TV, the accused TMC leader, Dabashish Kahar, denied all allegations and said, “Even though he is an artiste, Bhattacharya is of unsound mind. He enacts plays that are socially unacceptable.”