Suspected members of Hindutva organisations protested against Bengali poet Srijato Bandopadhyay in Silchar in Assam on Saturday night, Anandabazar Patrika reported.

Bandopadhyay was in Silchar – the headquarters of Cachar district – to participate in an event organised by a city-based cultural organisation at a hotel on Park Road.

When the event was on, local BJP leader Basudeb Sharma and his associates reportedly arrived at the hotel and said they wanted to speak to the poet. They asked him about a controversial line from his poem Abhishap (Curse) that contains an alleged derogatory reference to the trishul, a symbol of Hinduism, Sangbad Pratidin reported.

A member of a rightwing organisation had filed a police complaint against the poet last year for “hurting religious sentiments”.

When the organisers intervened and asked Sharma to change his line of questioning, the suspected Hindutva activists started protesting and they allegedly went on a rampage in the hotel, leading to the cancellation of the event. At 10.30 pm, after almost two hours, the police arrived to escort Bandopadhyay out of the venue.

The poet arrived in Kolkata on Sunday morning and was taken home by the police. “What I faced in Silchar was just an expression of the rising levels of intolerance across India,” he told Pratidin. Bandopadhyay said he was worried about how independent poets and novelists were increasingly being attacked. But he added that he would not stop writing.

Poets Subodh Sarkar, Joy Goswami, Tilottoma Majumar and Mandakranta Sen, theatre professional Koushik Sen and other well-known literary names in Kolkata condemned the incident. Subodh Sarkar said he would visit Assam and read Srijato’s poems in protest against the incident.