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Anurag Kashyap, Amol Palekar, Nandita Das join artistes seeking bail for jailed activists

The film personalities were among 500 prominent names who protested against the arrests during a pandemic and demanded that the activists be immediately released.

Our Correspondent

Film personalities across the country from Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Naseeruddin Shah and Amol Palekar to Nandita Das, Onir, Shabana Azmi and Anurag Kashyap have signed an open letter seeking the immediate release of jailed activists across the country.

They are among 500 prominent names, mostly from West Bengal, who have asked that activists like Varavara Rao and Safoora Zargar be released.

Rao and Zargar are among the numerous activists who have been jailed in recent months. The letter by the Indian Cultural Forum platform states that the activists have been placed in a dangerous condition during the COVID-19 pandemic. 'In the prisons of Maharashtra, where they are being detained, some inmates have died and many others have tested positive for COVID-19,' the letter stated.

'We demand that they all be granted bail immediately on humanitarian grounds as their lives are at risk at a time when a pandemic is raging across the country. We have learnt that Mr Varavara Rao, who is 80 years old, is already ill and has been removed to a police hospital,' it continued.

The letter also shared the dismay over the denial of bail to Zargar and Akhil Gogoi of Assam who had protested against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. It stated that they are not convicted criminals and do not plan to flee the country either. 'The focus should not be on the suppression of dissent but on the containment of the pandemic for all, in prison and out of it,' the letter stressed.

Veteran actor Dhritiman Chatterjee told the Press Trust of India news agency, "Several personalities from West Bengal, including me, have signed the letter. We demand that the liberal space is not encroached and throttled in a democracy. We are also worried that the COVID-19 situation in prisons will affect the health of the jailed activists. The Centre and the states concerned should not sit idle over the issue."

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