Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee threw her political weight squarely behind the intellectuals of Bengal who had been supporting the tribal movement of Lalgarh and the PCAPA over the past several months.
“If you even touch their hair, the people of Bengal won’t spare you,” she thundered on Monday morning while speaking to a Bengali television channel.
The 54-year old Trinamool supremo dared the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to persecute the likes of author Mahasweta Devi, 83, actress Aparna Sen, 64, and Saonli Mitra 61, poet Joy Goswami, 55, theatres personalities Bibhas Chakravarty, 73 and Kaushik Sen painters Jogen Chowdhury, 70, and Samir Aich, 52.
“We are watching the situation and ready to respond if required,” went out Mamata’s veritable warning.
“We have nothing against the intellectuals. But if somebody is found to be helping a front orgaanisation of the Maoists, law will take its own course,” said Bengal chief secretary Ashoke Mohan Chakravarty soon after Banerjee’s outburst.
During the weekend director general of Bengal Police Bhupinder Singh and the Chief Secretary had said in tandem that several intellectuals of this state, apart from students and professors of an university, had regularly been in touch and helped the movement of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in Lalgarh and that they could be summoned for interrogation.
Describing the intellectuals as assets of the country, Mamata argued, “The intellectuals had supported the democratic movement of tribals in Lalgarh. So had we. The government hasn’t yet banned PCAPA. So, where is the problem is someone supports them or keeps in touch with them.”
“Don’t play with fire,” she warned “for if you do, you would be starting a conflagration that will be difficult to douse.
The police arrested PCAPA spokesperson, Chhatradhar Mahato, 44, on 26 September. Mahato is being interrogated by the police.