Kolkata: The arrest of a Jadavpur University professor for allegedly circulating defamatory cartoons of some Trinamool Congress leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has attracted criticism not just from the opposition but also from within the party.
Expressing shock over the incident, rebel TMC MP Kabir Suman said: "Even I have received the cartoon and I cannot fathom how it can be a cyber crime. It has been made in good humour. If he can be arrested today then who knows we may be arrested tomorrow."
"What has been forwarded in the website is an innocent expression and it is difficult to accept that a person can be arrested on the basis of this," he added.
Speaking separately to a news channel, Suman regretted that Banerjee has changed after becoming the West Bengal Chief Minister.
According to Suman, the state government was suffering from paranoia and a persecution mania. He added that the CM herself is scared and afraid but there is no reason for her to be so.
He even went on to say that the TMC supremo would have protested against these arrests had she been in the Opposition.
Several other renowned personalities have also come out against the arrest.
Educationist Sunanda Sanyal, who parted ways with Banerjee in recent time, condemned the arrest and said it was made "on a flimsy ground".
Noted writer Sunil Gangopadhyay said the arrests were a pointer to the dictatorial attitude of the ruling party "which is ominous".
"I fail to understand how arrests can be made over cartoons which are natural expressions in a democracy and want to know when politicians will learn to ignore cartoons," Gangopadhyay said.
Meanwhile, four people including two TMC workers have been arrested in connection with the FIR lodged by professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, alleging he was beaten up on April 12 in connection with the cartoons.
Mahapatra alleged he was mercilessly beaten up by 'Trinamool Congress' members and forced to give a signed statement on Thursday night that he had posted the cartoon online as he was "an active Communist Party of India-Marxist worker".
Mahapatra, a professor of physical chemistry, in his 50s, had claimed he had sent the mail for "pure fun" to his friends.
"He has been booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information technology Act," an officer of East Jadavpore police station said.
Another person, Subrata Sengupta, the secretary of Mahapatra's housing society, was also arrested as the professor allegedly used the society's registered email id to send the cartoon strips.
Mahapatra was booked under charges of outraging the modesty of a woman - punishable with one year imprisonment, defamation which carries a maximum term of two years and hacking, punishable with three years prison term and fine up to Rs 2 lakh.
Both Mahapatra and Sengupta were granted bail by the court of 2nd judicial magistrate (Alipore) Suparna Roy.
The collage of cartoons mailed by by Mahapatra allegedly includes the photographs of Banerjee and Railway Minister Mukul Roy and uses some dialogues of Satyajit Ray's detective masterpiece "Sonar Kella", showing the duo discussing how to get rid of party leader Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced by the chief minister to give up the railways portfolio. 'Mukul' is incidentally the name of the child protagonist in the movie.
First Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 14:23