Amidst ongoing fear over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in several parts of West Bengal, a community Durga puja committee in the city has dared and kept “refugees” as its theme this year.
Popular as one of the award-winning community pujas in the state of Bengal, Rajdanga Naba Uday Sangha puja committee has placed shuttlecocks and badminton rackets randomly in front of the marquee reflecting the impression that “refugees are nothing but shuttlecocks lobbed to each other’s side by two countries”, said the puja committee’s president Sushanta Ghosh.
Notably, Ghosh is also a Trinamool Congress leader and chairman of Borough Number 13 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. According to him, an iron fencing, placed at the marquee, represents the frontier which geographically separates countries but not its people.
According to the theme artist Subrata Bandyopadhyay, “There will be a giant model of a bird to show that people are fettered by boundaries and can become refugees after partition but not other living beings who are far more liberated than human beings.”
Sushanta Ghosh further said that to recreate the effect with wood and fiberglass, the puja committee had started preparations since July. And, a total of 50 people were working day and night at the place.
When the president of the puja committee was asked if showcasing “refugees” as a theme in a Durga puja pandal will invite controversy, he reportedly said that the theme has been kept to protect refugees and NRC can’t be ignored especially when someone takes up the issues of refugees these days.
Currently, long queues can be seen outside the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters and other division offices in the city and BDO offices in other parts of the state to get land and necessary documents. This is happening because panic over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has gripped the state of West Bengal.
The previous year, a Durga Puja committee in south Kolkata had made a theme associated with NRC and elucidated the plight of those affected by the exercise in a different way.
The themes of Durga puja celebrations in Kolkata have always been on contemporary issues. And, joining the league the Friends United Club in Burrabazar has attempted to recreate the Balakot airstrike this year. It has displayed models of IAF personnel, a fighter aircraft and dead militants in its marquee.