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Aparna Sen: Are we living in the middle ages?
Indrani Roy Mitra in Mumbai
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November 10, 2007 18:53 IST

Aparna Sen [Images] broke into tears even as she spoke about the violence which has become synonymous with Nandigram.

Talking to exclusively over phone from Kolkata on Saturday, she said, "The violence in Nandigram has put democracy in danger. The events have taken the shape of a civil war and some drastic steps are needed to put an end to this mindless violence."

Sen, along with her father, filmmaker and critic Chidananda Dasgupta, left the ongoing Kolkata Film Festival Committee in protest against the violence. Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh has also walked out of the event.

"How can we be a part of an event organised by the state government at this stage? The Left Front in Bengal is just the ruling party but the state belongs to the people. What the Left Front is doing in Nandigram is worse than any dictatorship. How can we accept such inhuman behaviour?"

It's a pity, she says, that the people of the state have not yet taken to the streets in protest. "Innocent people are being systematically butchered there. I am ashamed, terrified and helpless," says the filmmaker.

Sen's voice choked as she recounted how activist Medha Patkar was assaulted by the Communist Party of India-Marxists activists as she attempted to enter Nandigram.

According to her, Patkar was dragged by hair and hit on the head by party cadres who did not want her to enter the disputed area. "Are we living in the middle ages? What is the famed intelligentsia of Bengal doing? If they don't stand up against such atrocities, when would they?

"Since film is my medium, the instant protest that I can think of is walking out of the film festival. But that just isn't enough. A much more organised opposition should come from the civil society itself," the filmmaker said.

She said the involvement of Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee in the issue only complicated matters further. "The people can't see a viable opposition in Mamata. Bandhs can't and won't provide a solution. Rather a silent yet violent candle march by the common people is bound to have a much better impact."

Like Rituparno Ghosh, Sen too felt that it is time the protest against Nandigram was taken to a national level. "The Centre must intervene to put an end to mass killings. We appeal to the central government to free Nandigram of mindless violence," she said.

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