Kolkata: An event titled “The saga of Balochistan and Kashmir” has been denied permission by the reputed Calcutta Club due to alleged pressure from the West Bengal state administration and the Kolkata Police.
The event which was scheduled for January 7 evening at the Calcutta Club was scrapped at the last moment by the club authorities citing “unavoidable circumstances” and stating that being a private social club they would like to ensure “cordial atmosphere” at the institution.
According to Swadhikar Bangla Foundation, the organizers of the event, the club authorities were pressurized by the Kolkata Police to deny permission for the event as it involves speakers who are known for their “anti-Pakistan” rhetoric.
The organizers claim that the Calcutta Club authorities were called for a meeting at Lal Bazar, the headquarters of Kolkata Police where they were told not to allow the program because it may hurt the sentiments of a particular community and result in a law and order situation.
“We were told by the club’s CEO that they were called to Lal Bazar where they met senior police officers who pressurized them to drop the event. They were told that one of the speakers at the event was famous for his anti-Pakistan rhetoric which might create law and order situation and stoke communal disharmony in the state,” claimed Colonel (retd) Diptangshu Chaudhury, founder of Swadhikar Bangla Foundation.
Speakers like Pakistani-Canadian author Dr. Tarek Fatah, Kashmir activist Sushil Pandit, retired Army officer, Major General GD Bakshi and Baloch activist Brahamdagh Bugti were supposed to take part in the event. Criticising the West Bengal government for the ban on the event, author Tarek Fatah wrote on Twitter, “Afraid of Islamists, Mamata government forces cancellation of Tarik Fatah’s talk on Balochistan.”
Infact, the club authorities forced the organisers to drop the “Kashmir” word from the poster of the event stating it may fuel unrest in the state. Subsequently, “Kashmir” was dropped from the poster by the organisers unordered to somehow continue with the event.
On their part, the Kolkata Police just stated that the club authorities had informed them that the event had been cancelled. “The organisers had sent a letter after which we had sought for a formal submission about the event involving international guests. They first submitted the request and on the next day sent a letter informing us that the event was cancelled,” said a top Kolkata Police official.
When India Today contacted the CEO of Calcutta Club Ranjit Dutta, he refused to speak on the matter.