Kolkata: A unique protest march was witnessed in Kolkata on Saturday against the late-night police action to remove protesters agitating outside the West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) office against the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of primary teachers in the state.
The protest march convened under the banner of Nagarik Mancha (Citizens’ Forum) had intellectuals, educationists, writers and celebrities from the Bengali silver screen in the forefront leading the rally. Senior political leaders from Left Front and Congress were seen following them, but without their respective party flags.
Reputed educationist Pabitra Sarkar, who chose to walk a mile ignoring his age and related ailments, said that this is not a political rally.
“This is a protest of the citizens against the barbaric late-night attack by the police on the protesters agitating in a peaceful and democratic manner,” he said.
The other popular faces leading the march included celebrity writer Mandakranta Sen and film personalities like Srilekha Mitra, Badshah Moitra and Debojyoti Mishra, among others.
Following them were two veteran faces of CPI(M) and Congress — Left Front chairman in West Bengal Biman Bose and senior Congress leader and former leader of opposition, Abdul Mannan.
Biman Bose had his own explanation as to why they chose to remain in the back row.
“This protest call was given by the civil society. We are just supporting the cause of the protest. So, it is natural that those who have given the protest call will be in the front row,” Bose said.
Maintaining that the rally had nothing to do with politics, actor Badshah Moitra said, “We felt that it was our moral duty to stand by the protesters. The common people are also with us. The more the state government resorts to such oppressive measures, the stronger will be the protests.”
Actress Srilekha Mitra said the approach of the state government towards the protesters was as if they had committed some crime by raising voice for their legitimate rights.
“The Chief Minister does not want a voice of protest. The situation has reached such a stage now. We do not want this present regime to continue in the future,” she said.
Another unique feature of the protest was, instead of raising slogans, those who were part of the march kept on singing protest songs.