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Mainstream, VOL LV No 21 New Delhi May 13, 2017

Convention against Communalism

Sunday 14 May 2017, by Barun Das Gupta

A State-level Convention against Communa-lism, organised by the Sampradayikata Virodi Manch, was held at the University Institute, Kolkata, on May 3, 2017. The Convention adopted a resolution that resolved to fight the commu-nalism of both the majority and the minority communities, build up public opinion against extra-judicial killings by the State passed off as ‘encounter deaths’ and the attempt of the ruling dispensation to transform India from a secular and democratic republic to a Hindu Rashtra. It also opposed religious obscurantism and the attempt to present ancient myths as proven scientific truths.

The Convention noted that the freedom of the media in the country—both print and electronic —is coming under increasing attack. The media is being forced to toe the official line in disseminating news and presenting news analysis. The Convention resolved to fight majoritarianism and religious fanaticism. It also noted that Dalitswere coming under increasing attack from chauvinist Hindutva groups. The suicide of Rohith Vemula of the Hyderabad Central University and the assault on JNU Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar are two glaring examples of this.

In his message to Basudeb Ganguly, Chairman, UCPI and one of the organisers of the Convention, Kanhaiya Kumar regretted his inability to attend it and called on all rational and progressive individuals to “realise and visualise the attack on democratic practices, academic institutions and basic rights of under-privileged sections of society in general and Dalists, adivasis,minorities and OBCs and women in particular”. He drew attention to the fact that the ruling party had “captured the propaganda tool in terms of mainstream and digital media. Fake news and unnecessary focus on non-relevant issues have become the new normal.”

It was decided to hold district-level conventions all over the State. The Convention was presided over by veteran Congress leader and former member of the Lok Sabha, Somendra Nath Mitra. Speakers who addressed the Convention included former MLA and Communist leader Santosh Rana, PDS leader Samir Putatunda, Congress MP Prof Pradeep Bhattacharyya, Congress leader and former MP Sardar Amjad Ali, Prof Miratun Nahar, eminent journalist Geetesh Sharma, editor of Saptaha weekly Dilip Chakravarty, Prof Sirajul Islam, Barun Das Gupta and Shantanu Dutta Chowdhury. All the speakers emphasised the need to unite and strengthen the democratic and secular forces.

The author was a correspondent of The Hindu in Assam. He also worked in Patriot, Compass (Bengali), Mainstream. A veteran journalist, he comes from a Gandhian family and was intimately associated with the RCPI leader, Pannalal Das Gupta.

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