A group of prominent actors, activists and theatre personalities on Monday wrote to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to condemn police action on teachers and the assault on a theatre actor in recent days in the state. Some of the signatories of the letter were also among those who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month about lynchings in the country.

Filmmakers and actors Aparna Sen, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Kaushik Sen and Sohag Sen were among the 10 signatories.

The letter stated that police had stopped some part-time teachers of colleges and universities from sitting on a dharna at Subodh Mallik Square in Kolkata on Monday. On August 17, it said, teachers who had gone on hunger strike at Kalyani, 70 km from Kolkata, were allegedly baton-charged by police.

“We have been noticing with a great deal of anxiety that, instead of trying to resolve the peaceful democratic protests of teachers of this state through sane dialogue and debate, the administration has been resorting to undemocratic means of quashing these protests by the use of police brutality,” the letter said.

The signatories condemned the alleged attack on theatre actor Shubhankar Das Sharma on August 15. They said he was “attacked and beaten up by unknown assailants at Dumdum while returning home at the end of the performance”. The letter said: “Some sort of ointment or balm was applied to his eyes in order to blind him temporarily, so as to prevent him from seeing the faces of his assailants and identifying them later. He was not told why he was being beaten.”

The letter, written on behalf of CitizenSpeakIndia forum, said the incidents were an attack on all artistes propagating free thought, adding that such incidents should be condemned with the same severity as any case of lynchings elsewhere in the country.

“We condemn the incidents of violence mentioned above, and request the state administration to identify and punish the perpetrators as swiftly as possible,” the letter said.

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