Prominent personalities from the civil society on Friday participated in a massive rally that meandered down the streets here in a collective outcry against the growing incidence of atrocities against women, including rape in different parts of the State.

Surprisingly, flags of political parties were missing in the rally, a sharp contrast to other rallies the city has witnessed. Instead, there were banners that condemned the recent rape and murder instances in Barasat and Gaighata.

The protesters had come out in their hundreds. Among them were poets and novelists, film and theatre personalities, painters and social activists and economists. There were the young and the elderly, drawn from different walks of life but sharing a common resolve: “Atrocities against women must end.”

The rally was marked by a spontaneity that saw it swell as it wended its way from College Square in the north to the Esplanade area in the heart of the city.

The procession was initially planned as a silent one. Filmmaker Suman Mukhopadhyay said: “We are not raising any slogans; our coming out on the streets is a slogan itself.” However, very soon the outrage found a verbal expression as voices were raised and protest songs rent the air, a sharp contrast to the scripted political slogans the city is otherwise used to hearing.

Some kin of the 20-year-old gang-rape and murder victim in Barasat of the State’s North 24 Parganas district were also present. Some of the city’s intelligentsia, who had took to the streets in November 2007 to protest against the police firing in Nandigram earlier that year during the Left Front’s government, were also present. Their resentment was directed towards the Trinamool Congress government.

Poet Shankha Ghosh, one of the conveners of the march, said people would “have to come forward, rise above party politics, and put up a strong and unified social resistance against crimes against women.” Among others were economist Ashok Mitra, painter Samir Aich, thespian Rudraprasad Sengupta and actor Biplab Chakravarty.