In a major jolt to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, internationally acclaimed city-based filmmaker Aparna Sen on Thursday boycotted the 13th Kolkata Film Festival organised by the state government to lodge her protest against violence in Nandigram.
"She (Aparna Sen) has boycotted the festival to protest the continuing violence in Nandigram. This is a kind of self-censorship as we artistes are taking our own decision driven by our own conscience," noted playwright and actor Kaushik Sen told IANS.
"Aparna Sen is a big name and her move matters of all persons. So it sends a strong message to the government," Kaushik Sen said.
Aparna Sen and several others are part of the Artists, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals' Forum (ACAIF), which is spearheading a civil society movement against the ongoing political violence in Nandigram constituency.
While Aparna Sen has boycotted the inauguration of the festival on Nov 10, she declined to inaugurate the film market of the festival Thursday.
"Aparna Sen said she is heart-broken and perturbed by the Nandigram incidents and so she decided to take this stand since the festival is organised by the West Bengal government," ACAIF member Amitava Chatterjee said.
Several intellectuals, along with Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar, were attacked Thursday by supporters of the state's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Thursday when Patkar was on way to trouble-torn Nandigarm.
Intellectuals under the banner of the ACAIF also held a demonstration at Gariahat in south Kolkata to protest fresh turmoil in Nandigram.
Launching a massive offensive against the Trinamul Congress-backed Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), the CPI-M regained its lost bases in Nandigram this week as fresh violence claimed four lives and left several injured in the area since Tuesday.
With four more deaths in the past few days, the death toll in Nandigram has risen to 32 since January when the region flared up over proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ), including a chemical hub, a plan that was later scrapped by the state government in the face of stiff resistance.
Though the SEZ was given up, a turf battle continues in Nandigram between the CPI-M and the BUPC in the run-up to the local body elections in May next year.