Jadavpur professor arrested for Mamata cartoons, granted bail
PTI KOLKATA / NEW DELHI A JADAVPUR university professor was arrested on Friday for allegedly posting a cartoon on the internet showing West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in poor light after she forced out Dinesh Trivedi and put Mukul Roy in his place as railway minister.
The arrest of Ambikesh Mohapatra, a chemistry professor, sparked an outrage with opposition CPM and the academic community saying the police action is “highly atrocious” and a “clear assault” on the minimum democratic right of freedom of expression. The professor was later granted bail by an Alipore court. Protests were also held by students and the professor’s colleagues at the Jadavpur university campus.
DCP Sujay Chanda said the professor was arrested along with a neighbour residing in east Jadavpur for spreading derogatory messages against “respectable persons” on a popular social networking site. Mohapatra was charged with IPC offences relating to defamation and insulting the modesty of women as well as cyber crime offence.
Labour minister Purnendu Bose justified the arrest. He argued that the objectionable content was not a cartoon, but real pictures, which were nothing but an insult.
“Law will take its own course,” he said. The cartoon in question, which was also sent by e-mail, showed chief minister and the railway minister apparently exchanging dialogues from a popular Bengali film Sonar Kella, a detective masterpiece by Satyajit Ray, which alluded to the replacement of Trivedi by Roy as railway minister.
“The arrest is a clear assault on the democratic right of freedom of expression. It is like very much what happened during Emergency,” CPM leader Brinda Karat said. Karat’s party colleague Md Salim said the police action is highly ridiculous and highly atrocious.
However, Mamata has defended the police action saying that the professor was arrested for his “wrong deeds” and blamed the CPM for raising trivial issues to malign her. Meanwhile, Congress also disapproved professor’s arrest. Party spokesman Manish Tewari said the Congress always believed in the freedom of right of expression granted by the Constitution which was intrinsic to the democratic ethos of the country.
He, however, added that he had no first hand knowledge of the incident and therefore it was inappropriate for making any sweeping judgement about the incident.