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Actors locked up in protest swoop

Actors, artists and writers on Sunday took the Nandigram protests to Nandan, where the Calcutta Film Festival is being held.

Nearly 100 protesters, more than 20 of them women, were arrested. Actor Parambrata Chatterjee, actress Bidipta Chakraborty and 37 students, some from Jadavpur University, were among those put behind bars.

The actors were released about five hours later, after a meeting at Lalbazar between deputy commissioner (headquarters) Vineet Goyel and a group of protesters, including film-makers Aparna Sen and Goutam Ghose and poet Sankha Ghosh.

“I don’t know on what grounds we were arrested. We did not step into Nandan, nor did we have any arms and ammunition. We were sitting outside the Academy of Fine Arts, singing,” said Parambrata after his release.

The protesters gathered at Esplanade around 1.15pm and walked towards Nandan. The police stopped them on Kyd Street. After staging a demonstration for half an hour, they returned to Esplanade and formed a “human chain”.

“The protesters then walked to the Academy in small groups and sat down on Cathedral Road, disrupting traffic. This was around 2.20pm,” said an officer of South Traffic Guard.

The demonstrators spoke against the government’s role in Nandigram and sang songs of protest. Scores of policemen and Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed. The demonstration ended at 4.15pm with the arrest of the protesters.

About 40 minutes later, Youth Congress supporters started walking towards Nandan from Elgin Road. They clashed with the police, when they tried to stop the rally. A section of supporters pelted stones, smashing the windscreen of a state bus. Five passengers were injured.

In the evening, Trinamul Congress supporters tried to barge into Nandan. A traffic sergeant was injured in the clash that ensued.

The scene of the action shifted to Lalbazar after that. The intellectuals tried to enter the police headquarters to secure the release of the arrested protesters but found the gate shut. “There was confusion because we could not allow everyone who had turned up to step inside,” said a senior officer at Lalbazar.

Outside the gate, several demonstrators, including poet Joy Goswami, theatre personality Suman Mukhopadhyay and director-singer Anjan Dutt, were lighting candles to protest the Nandigram violence.

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