The Mamata Banerjee administration imposed a blanket ban on street protests in Kolkata on Saturday citing public inconvenience.
The announcement by Kolkata police commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha was met with howls of protest from leaders of all political parties barring the Trinamool.
“This is nothing but an effort to gag the voice of democracy,” said BJP’s state president Rahul Sinha. Mohammed Selim, central committee member of CPM, felt that the government simply did not want to respect the rights of opposition parties.
Purakayastha, who maintained that the people of the city had to suffer as normal traffic flow was affected due to such law violation programmes, clarified that political programmes like rallies would be allowed within Kolkata.
Pradesh Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya also criticised the government’s decision. “We are not accepting the directive. We will hold such law violation programmes soon,” said Bhattacharya at a press meet soon after.
Most political leaders felt that the latest decision of the police reflected the chief minister’s attitude of intolerance towards any form of criticism of her government.
They pointed out the case of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra who was arrested for circulating a cartoon on Banerjee’s abrupt replacement of railway minister Dinesh Trivedi with Mukul Roy. They also cited the example of a farmer from the Lalgarh area, Shiladitya Chowdhury, who was branded a Maoist by the chief minister, for asking her uncomfortable questions at a rally.