Mamata Banerjee stands by Srijato Bandopadhyay, says democratic voices cannot be hushed up

Poet Srijato Bandopadhyay lodged a complaint with Kolkata police after threats poured on Facebook .

kolkata Updated: Mar 23, 2017 20:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,Srijato Bandopadhyay,controversial poem
The Bengal chief minister said that everyone has democratic rights and the poet is being targeted in social media for his poem.(HT Photo)

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday stood by Bengali poet Srijato Bandopadhyay against whom a police complaint was lodged for hurting ‘religious sentiments’ after he posted a controversial poem on Facebook.

On the evening of March 19, Bandyopadhyay, 42, posted a poem on his Facebook wall where he criticised the outcome of the UP elections, took a veiled dig at chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath and made a ‘derogatory’ remark against Trishul, a quintessential Hindu symbol.

“I can tell you nothing harsh will happen to Srijato. Everyone has democratic rights. He wrote a poem, which is a political poem. Those who are spreading saffronisation have lodged the complaint. In social media the poet is being targeted and threatened. I do not want to name anyone. They want to dictate what we will think and do,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while speaking at an interview with a television channel.

“I have asked the police to investigate and give me a report,” added Mamata Banerjee.

Read: Police complaint against West Bengal poet for ‘hurting religious sentiments of Hindus’

Acting on the complaint filed by one Arnab Sarkar for hurting the ‘religious sentiments’ of Hindus, Siliguri Police started a case and slapped non-bailable section of IT Act against Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay on Wednesday. One of the two sections carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or fine.

On Thursday, Srijato Bandopadhyay met with senior officers at Kolkata police headquarters alleging threats on his life in social media. He later went to cyber police station and lodged a complaint that threats have been pouring on against him and his wife in Facebook.

On Thursday two more complaints were lodged against the poet for hurting ‘religious sentiments’ in Bengal police stations. (Facebook)

Meanwhile, two more police complaints were lodged against the poet in Bengal. One Joyjit Bhattacharya lodged a complaint with Ghola police station in North 24 parganas district, while another complaint was lodged by Biplab Kumar Chowdhury with Airport police station.

Read: Police start case, slap non-bailable section against Bengali poet for hurting ‘religious sentiments’

“I will not give much importance to the issue. The majority of people in this country believe in freedom of speech. A degree of freedom of speech still exists in this country. Our country has not become Pakistan or Bangladesh, and one has the right to speak here. Since the past two days I have been trolled in Facebook after I posted the poem,” said the poet speaking to media earlier.

“Some of the comments against me are dangerous threats. These people, so called flag bearers of Hindutva, never read poems and I do not expect them to understand,” Bandyopadhyay said.

First Published: Mar 23, 2017 20:46 IST