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We Tried Filing An FIR Against A Prominent Theatre Personality And It Wasn’t Easy

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Minerva Repertory happens to be a leading theatre institute and young thespians aspire to attend their workshops from where they get a chance to work with Minerva. This particular workshop where the incident happened was held between October 8, 2017, to October 12, 2017, at Rabindra Bhawan, Burdwan. One of the attendees posted a live video on October 12 stating that Premangshu Roy, who happens to be a film and theatre director and one of the mentors of the said workshop, misbehaved with them.

They complained that he came to the rehearsals drunk, used filthy language, made them perform gestures which were sexually coloured. He also asked the female participants to come down to his room at ungodly hours in the night. He allegedly said that if they give him an hour of pleasure, he’ll ensure one year of association with Minerva Repertory. Along with this, he allegedly exhibited his proximity to power by stating that he is close to Bratya Basu, a minister and that he could ruin their career/lives if they go against him.

They uploaded the live video which soon went viral, and then they deleted it under pressure. However few people who watched the video downloaded it and uploaded it again. The entire theatre fraternity staged agitation in front of The Academy of Fine Arts on October 13, 2017. One of our friends and theatre practitioner Joyraj Bhattacharjee announced that he’s going on a hunger strike. We demanded that a sumoto FIR be filed. However, Arpita Ghosh, a theatre personality in close association with the government of West Bengal said that the sumoto FIR wasn’t possible and we needed to lodge a FIR manually.

A team of theatre practitioners including prominent faces like Saurav Palodhi, Turna Das, Joyraj Bhattacharjee, Subhashis Dasgupta, and many more went to Lalbazar on October 13 at night, but the police refused to register the complaint stating that a complaint had already been made at Burdwan. Next morning i.e. on October 24, a team went to Burdwan Police Station along with our lawyer Sabyasachi Chatterjee, and the inspector in-charge (IC) agreed to take our complaint. I, Panchali Kar, lodged the complaint. Another person called Partha who’s a participant of the said workshop and a victim lodged a separate complaint.

A photo from the protest

We were supposed to get the FIR number on October 15, by 12 noon, as was stated by the duty officer to our lawyer Sabyasachi Chatterjee. We called a press conference in the evening stating that if we don’t see an affirmative move from the government, we’ll go for bigger protest. We requested Joyraj to call off his hunger strike for the time being and wait until 72 hours. Yesterday, our representatives went to the Burdwan Police Station to receive the FIR number but were sent back stating that the FIR number could not be given due to unavailability of the IC.

Meanwhile, Premangshu Roy called for a press conference yesterday and stated that it’s a conspiracy against him because he’s famous. He tried to gain sympathy by putting his wife and son in front of the camera. Today, a few people are going to the Burdwan Police Station in demand of the FIR number. Yesterday, a newspaper called Uttarbanga Sangbad allegedly reported that our complaint has been registered as a general diary (used to record every major incident in the jurisdiction of the police station) and the investigation has started, we are however yet to receive any GD number as well. Meanwhile, Premangshu Roy has been expelled from all the positions he was holding with Minerva Repertory, and the plays directed by him have been dropped off the theatre festivals.

Our demands are simple:
1. Premangshu Roy needs to be arrested on an immediate basis and a thorough investigation needs to be done.
2. Other mentors and administrators of this workshop need to be questioned regarding why they were silent regarding the misconduct of the said Premangshu Roy during the tenure of the workshop.
3. How could a person like Premangshu Roy who has a long history of sexual harassment get into mentorship of a government-sponsored project?
4. This workshop has been organised under the inspiration of Ms Mamata Banerjee, CM, the government of West Bengal, hence we demand her intervention in this case.

This is a link to the video posted by one Sarthak Roy, which later got deleted and reposted by others on the internet.

Premangshu Roy’s press conference:

The list of eminent theatre personalities who spoke during the agitation on October 13, 2017

Sohini Sengupta
Kheyali Dastidar
Prabir Ghosh
Seema Mukhopadhyay
Sourav Palodhi
Joyraj Bhattacharjee.

List of eminent theatre personalities who have expressed solidarity:

Uday Shankar Mukhopadhyay
Turna Das
Poulami Chattopadhyay
Asit Basu
Bibhas Chakraborty
Mishka Halim
Usha Ganguly
Arpita Ghosh
Arun Mukhopadhyay
Kishor Sengupta
Arna Mukhopadhyay
Sudipto Chatterjee
Kaushik Sen
Suman Mukhopadhyay
Debesh Chattopadhyay
Ankita Majhi
Neel Mukhopadhyay
Badshah Maitra
Chandan Sen (over phone)
Abantika Chakraborty (over phone)

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