People made us hit the streets | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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People made us hit the streets

People did not hit the streets because of our initiative. It was because of people that we took to the streets. If Singur did not happen, we would have never thought of hitting the streets.

kolkata Updated: May 14, 2011 16:53 IST
Shaonli Mitra

People did not hit the streets because of our initiative. It was because of people that we took to the streets. If Singur did not happen, we would have never thought of hitting the streets.

We had realised that the situation demanded much more than mere protests. And that meant agitation through cultural activities.

We did not join the movement as ‘intellectuals.’ We joined in as the aam aadmi to support the villagers who were protesting against forcible acquisition of land in Singur. The media branded us as ‘intellectuals.’

Initially, we went there to understand the ground reality, why were the peasants protesting and if they had valid reasons to do so? But our curiosity turned us into ‘enemies’ in the eyes of government officials. Soon, they assigned spies to keep track of our activities.

We wanted the government to give a patient hearing to the farmers. But the government did not pay any heed to our concerns. They labeled us as ‘opposition’s men.’ Such a situation is never comfortable for any civil society.

We had no links with any political party when we raised our voice against land acquisition. But our voice matched with the Opposition’s. However, one thing is very clear. Be it Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh, we went to all these places purely as individuals.

The November 14, 2007 rally from College Square to Esplanade was definitely a significant development. We never expected so many people to come together. There was no publicity campaign and organisational backing.

It was just peoples’ spontaneous reaction to join hands as a mark of protest. It showed that people wanted to protest, but they were waiting for someone to lead. And when thousands of people joined in such huge numbers to express their solidarity with the oppressed, it created a new courageous spirit.

Changing the government was never on our agenda. The government just did not give a damn to peoples’ sentiments. We just wanted the government to stop torturing the poor. People made the rest happen. Mitra is a theatre personality.

She spoke to Snigdhendu Bhattacharya