What Do ‘Calcuttans’ Think About Kolkata’s Coffee House Ruckus?

Be it political and intellectual discussions, coffee or ‘adda’, they all come together at Kolkata’s Coffee House. 

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Video Editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam

Be it political debates, intellectual discussions, a cup of coffee or some adda, Kolkata’s iconic Coffee House lies at the heart of it all. It boasts of having hosted the likes of legends like Satyajit Ray, Subhas Chandra Bose, Manna Dey and more.

However, on Monday, 15 March, a group of BJP supporters clad in saffron t-shirts had gathered at the location and started tearing posters put up by ‘No Vote to BJP’ activists. When the latter tried to protest, they were heckled. The BJP supporters left shortly, but not before a heavy exchange of slogans.

‘No Vote to BJP’, in retaliation to the event had organised a protest outside the Indian Coffee House. The Quint’s reporter reached the protest to find out what the Coffee House means to some of them, and what they think about the ruckus.

For many locals, Manna Dey’s song ‘Coffee House er shei adda ta aar nei’ is something they always associate with coffee house. Suman Sengupta, one of the convenors of the campaign, cited that very song and how it talks about communal harmony.

“ When they attack coffee house, they are attacking our very roots,” he added.

Akash Bhattacharya, an AISA member, when asked what he thinks about the incident said that, it was more imperative to hit the streets and protest than to have an opinion.

“What BJP-RSS is doing is not restricted to Coffee House. They have been doing the same in other places for some time now. They did it here yesterday so people are on the streets. And it is good that they are protesting because we need to protest. The things that they (BJP) can do if they come to power...yesterday was an example of the things they can do without being in power.” 
Akash Bhattacharya, AISA Member

Kaushik Banerjee, a regular at the Coffee House talked about how the place has been integral to the history, culture, and heritage of not just Kolkata but Bangladesh too.

Different people of the intelligentsia from Kolkata and Bangladesh come here to discuss music, prose, and adda. There hasn’t been any intellectual who hasn’t visited. 
Kaushik Banerjee, Local

The protest also saw senior citizens who have been visiting the Coffee House for over 40 years come to stand in solidarity with the protestors. Their reasoning? That the BJP and the RSS wants to destroy intellectual institutions like this, and must be stopped.

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