Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay, whose presence at a literary event in Assam's Silchar created a controversy, on Sunday alleged that freedom of expression in the country is under "increasing threat". Bandyopadhyay, who was at Silchar in Barak Valley, to attend a literary discussion on Saturday evening, faced protests from a group for his 2017 poem titled 'Abhishaap' (Curse), officials said. "I am shocked. I had not anticipated there will be such an incident in a place like Silchar. There was no inkling beforehand... There is an increasing effort to curb freedom of expression in the country," he told reporters in Kolkata.
Bandyopadhyay said during the function, a group of people, sitting among the audience, stood up, started shouting slogans against the poem and even tried to vandalise hotel property.
"The protesters, who did not carry any party flag or banner, then laid the hotel under siege for two-and-half-hours demanding I leave the place immediately. They were finally dispersed by the police force," the poet said.
He said while there was no threat to freedom of expression in West Bengal, he is concerned about the situation in rest of the country.
"We are increasingly moving into an intolerant society where some people will always stop you from speaking your mind and take away your right to freedom of speech," Bandyopadhyay said.
Coming out in support of Bandyopadhyay, Jnanpith awardee and poet Shankha Ghosh said all right-thinking people should resist the attempts to "muzzle artistic freedom".
Poet Subodh Sarkar said writers in the city will hit the streets to protest the "fascist" forces who want to invoke darkness in the country.