During an interactive session with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, actor Swara Bhasker asked her a question about the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) law in India in light of lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj being released from jail. After her response to Swara's question, Banerjee asked Swara Bhasker, “Why don’t you join politics?" adding, "You’re a tough and strong lady." The audience applauded the CM's suggestion.
Swara Bhasker told The Print that it was “gracious of her (Mamata) to compliment” her. Swara added, “My question to her was about the misuse of draconian laws, especially the UAPA, and I was glad to hear her assure everyone that she will not stand for the misuse of that law.”
Swara Bhasker shared the video of her interaction with CM Mamata Banerjee on Instagram with the caption, "In Mumbai today.. at an informal interaction with West Bengal CM.. My question to Mamta Bannerjee ma’am abt her opinion of the UAPA law.. Here’s hoping we have leadership who will respect rule of law, our constitutional values & provisions and practice impartial governance even if it’s to their detriment .. because no party is greater than the country.. Also that million dollar Q. in the end!!"
Before asking her question, Swara introduced some young artistes to Banerjee who have “risked their careers, their employment and very livelihood to keep resistance alive.” She introduced comedian Munawar Faruqui and said that he spent a month in jail and is regularly targeted by right-wing groups.
She also introduced someone whose venues are often vandalised for hosting comedians like Munawar, Aditi Mittal, and Agrima Joshua. Swara also pointed to other actors from the film industry present at the interaction including Richa Chadha.
Talking about why there is no Meryl Streep in India, Swara said, “There is no Meryl Streep in India because Meryl Streep could stand in front of the President elect of her country and critique him in the harshest way, and not a hair on her head was harmed. We are all unemployable today. For all of us, going to jail in a reality.”
Swara added, “If I visit the Arthur Road jail here, it would seem like a family reunion- my friends are there, my teachers are there, people we’ve studied are there. This is a crazy situation for a free democratic country.” The actor added that she hopes Mamata Banerjee will be a voice even for those who have no power but continue to resist.
Answering Swara’s question about the UAPA, Mamata Banerjee said, “I think UAPA is not for civic society of the common people. There are some laws in our country for the internal security and to protect the country from external threat but now it is being misused. I don’t have any personal grudge…but if anyone raises anything, certainly there will income tax raid, or CBI, or ED, or UAPA, or so many other things. I don’t agree with that.”
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