Kolkata, May 9 (IANS) Ahead of the hotly-contested panchayat polls Sunday, a group of city-based intellectuals took out a silent rally here Friday evening to protest the pre-poll violence in West Bengal’s Nandigram and demand peaceful local polls there. The intellectuals, under the banner of Swajan, began the rally - an initiative of noted author Mahasweta Devi - at 4 p.m.
“We marched in silent protest of the violence in Nandigram and are demanding peaceful panchayat polls there,” painter and Swajan-member Subhaprasanna told IANS.
The rally was participated by city-based intellectuals including filmmaker Aparna Sen, actor Kaushik Sen, poet Jai Goswami and singer Pallabh Kirtania.
The Swajan members will set out for Nandigram in East Midnapore district Saturday and stay there to monitor the situation till the polls are over Sunday.
“The pre-poll violence at Nandigram is a hint that the people there are not at all safe during the polls. They will be pressurised and even tortured to cast their votes in favour of the ruling party. Hence we have taken this decision so that we can take rounds at the booths and see that the democratic rights of the people are not violated during the polls,” Subhaprasanna said.
Earlier, the intellectuals submitted a memorandum to state election panel Tuesday demanding immediate transfer of the Nandigram police station officer-in-charge Debashis Chakraborty, East Midnapore district magistrate Anup Agarwal and police superintendent S.S. Panda in order to ensure fair panchayat poll in the trouble-torn region.
They suggested the commission form an independent body, without any political affiliation, to visit the violence-hit areas in Nandigram during the panchayat poll and submit their report to the commission.
Swajan is an independent body of civil society formed by a number of eminent intellectuals of the city.
The panchayat elections in West Bengal will be held on May 11, 14 and 18. Counting would be on May 21.