Santiniketan (WB), Aug 12 (PTI) Expressing concern over the 'reign of mafia' in Birbhum, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday said he is worried over the situation in certain areas in the district, which are not very far away from Rabindranath Tagore's abode of learning Visva Bharati.

Dhankhar said this after inaugurating the Hala Karsan Utsav 2020 of Visva Bharati university.

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He said that from being the land of Veer (brave), Birbhum is now being associated with the term 'Mafia raj' due to certain criminal activities in some places around Santiniketan.

"Recently I had gone to the house of martyr Rajesh Orang. Then I was told about the very rich cultural and literary tradition in this district. But you all know well what is going on now within 15-20 km radius of where we are sitting now.

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"The land where Gurudev established such a glorious institution is now witnessing a mafia raj within a little distance from Santiniketan. Many anti-social activities are taking place," he said.

Flagging the issue of the security and freedom of the press, he said, "journalists are not safe in Birbhum. They cannot act fearlessly they are threatened if they act with neutrality. There is a lot of pressure on them, I know."

The governor said Rabindranath Tagore believed in airing his own views without fear which is the bedrock of a democracy.

He recalled how Tagore was not afraid to air his views after the horrific Jalianwalabagh massacre under British ruled India.

Gurudev's words taught us, "if the mind is in fear, there can be no democracy, if the mind is in fear, there can be no civility, if the mind is in fear there can be no human rights," Dhankhar said.

Uttering Tagore's famous lines "where the mind is without fear and head held high," Dhankhar asked people to value and cherish those principles.

He wondered if we are moving away from the values and ideals espoused by the Bard who had founded the institution, known the world over.

Dhankhar also called for protecting the rights of farmers "who are the backbone of our society."

The governor said Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had initiated this Hala Karsan festival to commemorate the role of farmers in sustaining rural economy.

"Farmers are the backbone of our society. It has to be ensured no injustice is done to them and they get their dues," Dhankhar, who is the Pradhana (Rector) of the Central University said.

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