Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Friday said the slogan, "Jai Shri Ram", is being used "to beat up people" across the country. "I have not heard Jai Shri Ram before (in this way). It is now used to beat up people. I think it has no association with Bengali culture," said Amartya Sen at a public event in Jadavpur University in Kolkata.
Mr Sen said he has never heard of Ram Navami being celebrated in the state before, adding it has now gained popularity. "I had never heard of Ram Navami before. I asked my four-year-old grandchild who is your favourite deity? She replied, 'Maa Durga'. The significance of Maa Durga cannot be compared with Ram Navami," said Mr Sen.
"If people of a certain religion are scared to move freely or are fear-bound, it is a serious matter," he said.
His comments came days after a clash broke out between two groups over parking space and a temple was vandalised in Old Delhi.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh criticised Mr Sen for this comments. "Amartya Sen probably doesn't know Bengal. Does he know about Bengali or Indian culture? Jai Shri Ram is chanted in very village. Now entire Bengal says it."
West Bengal Chief Minister had confronted people who shouted ''Jai Shri Ram'' slogans at her in North 24 Parganas district in May. Workers of her Trinamool Congress and the BJP have sparred over the chanting of "Jai Sri Ram" over the past few months.
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