In an unprecedented action, leading Kolkata intellectuals, including filmmakers Aparna Sen and Gautam Ghosh, Sunday night fought with cops, entered the city police headquarters and freed their colleagues arrested during a rally to protest violence in Nandigram.
Sen, Ghosh, upcoming actor Parambrata Chatterjee, poet Shankha Ghosh, playwright Bibhas Chakraborty and a host of others reached the police headquarters at Lalbazar, a stone's throw from the state secretariat, and demanded the release of 41 artists and intellectuals who were arrested before the Nandan and Rabindra Sadan cultural complex.
"They had to give in. They finally released those arrested. We were here to free them," Bibhas Chakrbaorty told IANS from Lalbazar.
The intelligentsia also rallied behind a fasting Medha Patkar and other human rights activists as they boycotted a state-organised film festival and staged a blockade at Esplanade Sunday.
But when a procession of several intellectuals reached near Nandan, the venue of the film festival, police used batons to stop them.
Several people were injured in the baton-charge as police prevented them from reaching Nandan.
At least 41 intellectuals and eight workers of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress were arrested.
The city's cultural arena, where West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya always held sway, turned into a hostile territory for him as intellectuals squatted and urged police to wake up and rebel against the government's diktats.
Banners read "Shame" as the intellectuals fought a pitched battle with the police.
People watched in amazement when popular film and television actors, who in previous years used to dazzle the festival, were pushed in police vans and taken to Lalbazar.
Filmmakers Goutam Ghosh and Anjan Datta Sunday followed Sen and Rituparno Ghosh in boycotting the state-organised festival.
Bollywood actor Moushumi Chatterjee, who started her career with Bangla films, Sunday said she would campaign for Nandigram victims in Mumbai and expose the CPI-M.
Gun fights continued to rage in Nandigram Sunday, a day after ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cadres allegedly fired on an unarmed procession of villagers, killing two.
The violence has claimed 34 lives since January, when Nandigram flared up over proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ). The state government scrapped the plan later in the face of stiff resistance.