Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata showcases Lakhimpur Kheri violence, farmers' protest
The violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri during a farmers’ protest has found an honourable mention in the theme of a Durga Puja pandal in the northern fringes of Kolkata. The Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra Puja Committee unveiled their innovative pandal on Mahalaya, highlighting farm law agitation as well as Sunday’s Lakhimpur Kheri massacre.
A giant replica of a tractor being used by farmers to till land is placed at the entrance of the Dumdum Park Bharat Chakra pandal, depicting their struggle. The tractor has two wings attached symbolising freedom from bondage labour.
Artist Anirban Das, who conceptualised the theme, told news agency PTI that the names of farmers who died in the course of the agitation have been written in chits of paper on the giant tractor.
As you walk in, the sidewalks are adorned by the sketch of a car and a farmer lying on its path, accompanied by a line in Bengali -- "motorgari uray dhulo niche pore chashigulo", which translates to ‘the car leaves behind a swirl of dust while farmers fall under its wheels’.
Hundreds of sandals lie on the ground of the pandal, symbolising the scenes from protest in which they face police action. "From the days of Tebhaga movement to recent ones, the pandal showcases several farmers' protests. Shoes in the pandal symbolise people who've been struggling in these movements for ages," the organiser was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
A number of posters have been placed all across the pandal with slogans in English and Bengali. One of the posters read, "We are farmers, not terrorists, farmers are food soldiers", while another read “stand with Lakhimpur Kheri”. The main pandal is decorated with replicas of paddy, hanging from the roof.
The puja committee's secretary Pratik Choudhury said they wanted to highlight the exploitation of farmers. “We have sought to narrate the story of the farmers who provide the food to us," he said.
"The recent incident in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri, where four farmers were knocked down by a vehicle and killed during a protest, happened when our pandal was almost ready. But, we incorporated it," Choudhury added.
However, this is not the first time a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata has depicted the current socio-economic and political issues. Last year, the Barisha Club in south Kolkata built its pandal on the crisis faced by the migrant workers amid the nationwide lockdown.
This year, Navratri will be observed from October 7 till October 15. Durga Puja, which is celebrated from 'Sashthi' (sixth day of Navratri) is on October 11 while Dashami falls on October 15.