The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Bengal belongs to its people... They should be allowed to take it forward’
- Violence in Calcutta leaves former India captain Sourav Ganguly distressed
Sourav Ganguly

New Delhi: Thanks to Team India’s practice session ahead of the first Test against Pakistan, former captain Sourav Ganguly’s cell phones were off for quite some time on Wednesday morning. In fact, he switched them on only after returning to the Le Meridien and learning that the army had been called out in Calcutta.

The following is what an emotional Sourav (“I’m upset and feel so strongly about what has happened”), who enjoys God-like status in Bengal, told The Telegraph early in the evening:

“The images of violence on television have left me very distressed and disappointed... All of us want peace and would like to lead a comfortable life... What happened in parts of Calcutta today (Wednesday) is neither good for the city nor for the state... It’s going to drive away investors and deprive the young of opportunities to make it big...

“I happen to mix with people across the country and, in recent times, everybody has had positive things to say about our state... But this violence, I fear, will change that opinion... Bengal’s image has been affected and it’s such a shame that ordinary people got hit...

“This afternoon, for example, I was worried about my daughter (Sana) reaching home safely from school and I’m sure thousands of other parents must have been as worried too... That would be natural... I’d never imagined that the army would be out on the streets of Calcutta... The visuals were being shown on television, but I still found it hard to believe...

“The need of the hour is for common sense to prevail... I’m not a politician and don’t have a political agenda. However, I do have a lot of respect for the chief minister (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee)... Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m putting down others...

“Generally, sitting across the table is the best way to resolve differences... Bengal has to progress, but it won’t if there are bandhs every few days and violence in the heart of its capital. The state belongs to its people and they’ve got to nurture it... They should be allowed to take it forward...

“Like each one of you, I want a peaceful Calcutta and a peaceful Bengal... The people, clearly, have to stand up for what’s good for the state... Resorting to violence, for whatever reason, doesn’t help... It hinders progress, nothing more. We need to remember that...

“I sincerely hope that a common sense approach is quickly taken and, more important, what happened today isn’t repeated...”

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