Kolkata: 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 CPI-M 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
Protests were also held by students and the professor`s
colleagues at the Jadavpur university campus here.
DCP (south suburban division) 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 offences, Police said.
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," CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said.
Karat`s party colleague Md Salim said the police action
is highly ridiculous and highly atrocious.
Rebel Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman, who has
fallen foul of party supremo Mamata Banerjee for his
controversial statements, slammed the police for making the
"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 said.
Educationist Sunanda Sanyal, who has 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."