|Police attack street theatre|
|Ambikapur, Sarguja, Madhya Pradesh: IPTA, JLS, AISF, RDIEU and Children’s Pioneers were observing Safdar’s death anniversary with performances of Asghar Wajahat’s play against communalism, Farkh Kahan Hai? The second performance at Mahamaya Chowk had begun at 6.30 in the evening when a police van with ten policemen including two sub-inspectors arrived. They disrupted the play, threatening the audience with lathis and manhandling the actors. In spontaneous protest, the actors and members of the audience sat in a dharna at the Chowk demanding an apology from the police, and particularly from an extremely aggressive constable. During the dharna the play was performed thrice, and slogans of ‘Safdar Hashmi ka Paigam, Jari rakhna hai sangram’ and ‘Abhivyakti ki swatantrata hamara adhikar hai’ were raised. Finally, at about 9 pm, the DSP and the offending constable tendered apologies in person.
Sahmat protested to the Chief Minister condemning the action as ‘a gross violation of the right to freedom of expression’, and demanded an investigation to ensure that such incidents were not repeated. Earlier, we had received information of a police lathi charge on actors of the Prerna group while they were performing at Masauthi in Patna district. Sahmat joined Prerna in demanding punishment of the guilty and return of the properties confiscated from the group.