Sunday, May 11, 2008

Non-party political people prevented from observing the polls in Nandigram

Celeb 17 turned back

Calcutta, May 10: Seventeen intellectuals from Calcutta were stopped on their way to Nandigram by the Howrah administration today on the ground that their presence could cause law-and-order problems in the area.

A team led by additional superintendent of police Deepnarayan Goswami and subdivisional officer Sanjay Basu was waiting near the Mahishrekha bridge, 62km from Calcutta, for the 10-car convoy.

The cars were intercepted 85km from Nandigram around 1.45pm and told to turn back.

Film-maker Aparna Sen, theatre personality Saoli Mitra, singer Pallab Kirtaniya and actor Kaushik Sen questioned the police action, saying they would be happy with the “usual security offered to newspersons” but should be allowed to reach Nandigram. “But the police told us that it would not be possible to provide any security,” an agitated Aparna Sen said.

Newspersons on assignment, however, are not provided any security.

The Nandigram-bound team, which left for Calcutta at 4.20pm, headed straight to the election commission office.

The subdivisional officer said: “We had got a letter from the commission saying the presence of intellectuals could cause law-and-order problems and escalate tension in Nandigram. It asked us not to allow them to go there.”

Home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said the government had told the intellectuals that “it could not provide security to them”.

Aparna Sen called the action on an “unarmed group” that wanted to “observe polling” in Nandigram “shameful”.