Bharatiya Janata Party West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh on Saturday said Nobel laureate Amartya Sen “probably does not know Bengal”, reported PTI. Ghosh’s comments came a day after the economist said that the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan was not associated with the Bengali culture and that it was used as “a pretext to beat up people”.

Speaking at a BJP membership drive event, Ghosh countered Sen and said the Nobel laureate was unaware that people were being beaten up or even killed in the state for chanting the slogan. “In Bengal, if someone says Jai Shri Ram he is being murdered,” alleged Ghosh, according to The Indian Express. “India is progressing with a new image, while Bengal is walking backwards. There is no democracy here. People do not have the right to speak their mind. Big intellectuals are seeing terror in the chant of Jai Shri Ram. They are saying people are lynched for not chanting Jai Shri Ram.”

The BJP state unit president said Sen was unaware of the ground realities in the state. “He stays abroad and he should stay there,” said Ghosh. “Jai Shri Ram is chanted in every village – now entire Bengal says it.”

Leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress extended their support to Sen. “We stand by what Amarya Sen has said,” said senior party leader Purnendu Bose.

State Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim said Ghosh was new to Bengal politics. “He is not aware of Bengal’s culture,” said Hakim, reported The Indian Express. “If tomorrow Dilip Ghosh says Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore did not know Bengal, or that Mother Teresa did not know Kolkata, will the people believe him?”

Sen’s remarks came at a time when there have been instances of people being allegedly forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” in West Bengal. On June 24, a 26-year-old madrasa teacher in West Bengal alleged that he had been assaulted and pushed off a train the week before in Kolkata for not chanting “Jai Shri Ram”.

At the same time, the BJP has accused “goons of the TMC” of assaulting a party supporter in Nadia district allegedly for saying “Jai Shri Ram”. Krishna Debnath was beaten up on Wednesday night, and he succumbed to his injuries on Friday, said the police.