Students protesting inside Nandan complex against arrest of alleged “Maoists”, held by Kolkata Police
Several city students – members of the students’ union United Students’ Democratic Front (USDF) – were holding a protest inside Nandan complex on Saturday afternoon when police intervened and held them. Seven of them were taken to Hastings police station and interrogated for hours. The 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) is currently on at the venue. Today is the last day of the film festival.
The students were protesting the arrest of four persons from Jangalmahal’s Golatore on Tuesday, who were later charged with sedition. The USDF students were demanding their release. Kolkata students have been holding such protest marches in various parts of the city since the arrest of the four persons at Goaltore, who had gone to visit Jangalmahal and were therefore alleged to be “outsiders”.
“There was no plan for disruption at the Nandan complex today. The students were organising peaceful protests with placards. However, police picked them up forcibly and sent them to the police station,” said Debopriya Shome, from USDF who was not present at Nandan at the time, but was part of a similar protest meet elsewhere. He rushed to Hastings police station, but said they were not being informed whether those organising the protests had been arrested.
Sources said that police intervened as the film festival is on at several venues inside the Nandan complex and several visitors, including international guests are present there. “It was a matter of security issue,” sources said. USDF members however said Nandan was chosen as a venue for a protest because “those who watch films are sensitive and they would understand the issue of the State trying to suppress voices of protest. Moreover, those who were arrested were conducting a research and had been wrongly charged with sedition. The protest meet was also to demand their release.”
The four arrested persons – Sabyasachi Goswami, Sanjiv Mazumdar, Tipu Sultan and Arkadip Goswami – were held by Goaltore police on Tuesday. One of them had been arrested earlier for alleged links with Maoist organisations. According to police, some documents with Maoist links had been found in their possession. They were held from Makli gram panchayat area of Midnapore.
Later, students in Kolkata and members of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) organised protests in Kolkata. According to some, the four had gone to the Jangalmahal area to conduct a survey.