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With 'Raktabeej', 2014 Burdwan blast that shook Bengal makes it to big screen

Kolkata: While devotees were queueing up outside Durga Puja pandals for the Pushpanjali ritual on ‘Ashtami’ morning nine years ago, the sleepy neighbourhood of Khagragarh in Burdwan town was shaken by an explosion, some 70 km away from then president Pranab Mukherjee’s house.

The accidental blast, which happened on October 2, 2014, exposed how terror groups were using West Bengal for planning their operations, and producing bombs. In its charge sheet, the NIA said there was a ‘conspiracy of JMB, a proscribed organisation in Bangladesh, to overthrow the existing government in Bangladesh through violent terrorist acts’.

A Bengali film, which is based on this incident, has been making quite a wave at the box office during this Durga Puja. Directed by Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee, Raktabeej released on October 19.

Veteran actor Victor Banerjee plays the role of president Animesh Chatterjee in the film, while Mimi Chakraborty plays SP Burdwan Sanjukta Mitra and Abir Chatterjee portrays the role of Pankaj Sinha, an officer sent from Delhi to investigate the blast and the threat to the life of the president.

“The Khagragarh blast shook the entire West Bengal. When the blast happened, the then president was spending the Durga Puja at his house near the terror den,” director Mukherjee told PTI.

“This film mirrors reality and that reality is not about one place or one incident. It is about the events that are recurring. At the core, these are real incidents or events, but have not been dealt with regularly in cinema,” he said, maintaining that Raktabeej is, however, a film and creative liberty has been taken to delineate the chain of events.

But even then, facts have been woven into this fiction, he added.

Mukherjee said he came up with the idea of making the film after reading an article on the blast.

“We sought help from the editor of Times of India in Kolkata, and soon understood that this film demanded a budget that we do not have. We kept working on the story and continued with the research work. After nine years, we could finally make the film on a scale that we deemed fit for the story,” he said.

Besides Bengali, Raktabeej was released in Hindi, Odia and Assamese.

Two terrorists with links to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were killed while they were making bombs and explosive devices at the rented house in Khagragarh.

Over 30 people have been convicted in the case, and sentenced to various terms in jail.

In the charge sheets, the NIA alleged that the JMB terrorists wanted to establish Sharia rule by overthrowing the democratically-elected government in Bangladesh.

JMB’s activities in India primarily included recruitment, radicalisation and training of vulnerable youths in a systematic and organised manner and, in pursuance of the conspiracy, they had established organisational bases in certain districts of West Bengal like Nadia, Burdwan, Murshidabad and Birbhum as well as in Sahebganj district of Jharkhand, the NIA said.

The group has since been eradicated by the combined efforts of the West Bengal Police’s anti-terror wing and central agencies.

(Published 22 October 2023, 07:52 IST)

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