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Santiniketan: Hint of Mamata Banerjee joining protest near Pratichi

We have a plan to continue with the movement on May 7 too, says an organiser of the protest

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 03.05.23, 05:14 AM
Amartya Sen.

Amartya Sen. File picture

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to visit Santiniketan this weekend to take part in a protest organised by some members of Bengal's culture clan against Visva-Bharati authorities for their attempts to evict Nobel laureate Amartya Sen from a stretch of his ancestral home Pratichi.

A source said Birbhum district party leaders had been told about her probable visit to the varsity town after her engagements in Malda.

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"The chief minister is likely to visit Santiniketan at least for a day on May 6 and take part in the protest near Pratichi. We are taking all possible preparations at the protest venue.... If the schedule is not changed at the last minute, she will reach Santiniketan from Malda by chopper on May 6 afternoon and join the protest," said a Trinamul source.

Mamata's possible visit to Santiniketan to take part in the protest comes as no surprise. At a news meet at Nabanna on April 26, she had said she would stage a sit-in outside Pratichi if Visva-Bharati authorities tried to “bulldoze” the property.

“What have they (the Centre) been doing while Amartya Sen is being attacked every day?" she had asked.

Visva-Bharati has asked Sen to return 13 decimals of land, which, according to them, is under his “unauthorised” occupation. On April 19, Visva-Bharati in writing threatened to evict the economist from the 13 decimals, if he did not vacate on his own by May 6.

Sen is now abroad. His lawyer has moved court of the district judge seeking a stay on the eviction order. The plea will be heard on May 15.

The protest that Mamata is likely to join is being organised by the Visva-Bharati Banchao Committee or Save Visva-Bharati Committee, which includes painters Shuvaprasanna and Jogen Chowdhury, film director Goutam Ghose and singer Kabir Suman. Most members of this organisation are believed to be close to Mamata.

A source said the idea to hold a protest in Santiniketan came from Mamata, who is upset with Visva-Bharati's current dispensation for its allegedly continuous attempts to harass Sen.

"The protest will start from May 6 morning. Didi (Mamata) is likely to join us in the afternoon. We plan to continue with the movement on May 7 too," said one of the organisers of the protest.

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