Clarion call of conscience heard in silent march through city heart

Published on The Telegraph Calcutta, by a staff reporter, November 15, 2007.

A sea of humanity swept in silence through the heart of the city on Wednesday as Calcutta rose in peaceful revolt against the lawlessness in Nandigram.

Not a party flag was seen and not a political slogan was uttered, but the message was loud and clear as over 60,000 people joined the march from College Square to Esplanade.

There were teachers and students, artists and actors, singers and poets, office-goers and businessmen, even monks and nuns as the clarion call given by the city’s intelligentsia drew Calcuttans by the thousands.

“Nandigram symbolises state-sponsored terrorism, where governance doesn’t exist at all,” said Monalisa Mukherjee, an assistant manager of a private bank.

“I was filled with terror hearing chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee speak in terms of ‘our people’ and ‘their people’ on Tuesday,” added Disha Advani, marching by Monalisa’s side.

The silent protest march set off from College Square around 1.15pm and even at 5pm the tail of the apolitical mahamichhil had not reached Destination Esplanade.

“We knew many people would join the protest, but had no clue that the turnout would be so phenomenal,” said Anindo Sen, who put the crowd count at close to a lakh.

Hundreds of onlookers joined the march as it proceeded through College Street, Nirmal Chander Street and SN Banerjee Road before terminating at Esplanade. For once, commuters left stranded by the march shouted words of encouragement to those causing the standstill. “Apnara egiye cholun. Amra apnader shaathe achhi (Keep marching, we are with you),” shouted an elderly man from a tram on College Street.

(full text).

Link: A Call to Conscience, The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 2001.

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