Cartoon row: Prof fears for his life; 4 arrested

The cartoon showed the CM and the Railway Minister exchanging dialogues from popular Bengali film `Sonar Kella`, a detective thriller by Satyajit Ray.

Kolkata: University professor Ambikesh
Mohapatra, who is out on bail after being arrested for posting
a cartoon on the internet showing Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee in poor light, today said he feared for his life.

"I am not free of insecurity," the Jadavpur university
chemistry professor said alleging that on Thursday night a
group of 15 Trinamool Congress supporters assaulted him for
posting the cartoon.

"I was coming from the university when about 15 outsiders
followed me asking why I had sent the messages. They dragged
me and pushed me to the office," he said.

Mohapatra said a Trinamool Congress leader then showed
him the cartoon and accused him of showing disrespect to their
leader (Banerjee).
"They said I am a CPI-M activist. They beat me up. I was
very afraid. I cried...I told them that I have already
apologised for mailing the pictures. It is a cartoon. It is a
joke and should be taken as a joke," he said.

Following his complaint, four persons were arrested
today. They were identified as Amit Sardar, Arup Mukherjee, Sk
Mustafa and Nishikanta Ghorai, two of whom were suspected to
be Trinamool Congress workers.

All the four, however, were given bail on personal
security bonds of Rs 500 each by the Alipore court where they
were produced.

"Please provide me security," Mohapatra wrote in his
police complaint.

Mohapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta were
arrested yesterday for posting a cartoon on a social network
site featuring Banerjee with Railway Minister Mukul Roy and
his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi.

The cartoon showed the chief minister and the railway
minister exchanging dialogues from popular Bengali film
`Sonar Kella`, a detective thriller by Satyajit Ray, which
alluded to the replacement of Trivedi by Roy as Railway
Mohapatra and his neighbour were charged with defamation,
insulting the modesty of a woman and cyber offences.

They were produced in Alipore court and released on
personal bonds.

The arrests triggered angry reaction from opposition
CPI-M which dubbed the police action as "atrocious" and an
assault on the fundamental right of freedom of expression
and a grim reminder of oppression during Emergency.

"The police action is completely against freedom of
expression. No law has been violated.There is nothing which is
demeaning in this cartoon. It shows the level of intolerance"
under the new regime," CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said.

Labour minister Purnendu Bose justified the police
action on the ground that it was not a cartoon, but real
pictures, which were insulting.