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Mamata Banerjee meme row: West Bengal government releases BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma, 18 hours after SC order

Sharma alleged that even after the Supreme Court issued an order on Tuesday for her immediate release, she was kept inside the jail premises for an additional 18 hours.

Mamata Banerjee meme row: West Bengal government releases BJP youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma, 18 hours after SC order

BJP's youth wing leader Priyanka Sharma was released on Wednesday morning after she was forced to spend five days in Alipore Correctional Home for posting a morphed image of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media.

Addressing a press briefing in the party office in Kolkata after her release, Sharma alleged that even after the Supreme Court issued an order on Tuesday for her immediate release, she was kept inside the correctional home premises for an additional 18 hours. Sharma said that she wasn't allowed to talk to her family or lawyer, adding that she was tortured for posting a meme. She also asserted that she was forced to sign an apology letter before she was set free.

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Earlier in the day, her lawyer had approached the apex court alleging a delay in her release. Reacting to the claim, the top court warned the West Bengal government of complying with the order failing which the court will issue a contempt notice to the state government. However, the counsel appearing for the West Bengal government told a vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna that Sharma has been released from jail at around 9:40 am on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, BJYM National Secretary Saurav Sikandar had said that Sharma's release could not happen on Tuesday because the apex court's order reached them after the closure of prison at around 5.30pm. "We got SC`s order around 5.30 PM; prison was closed by then. Still, we spoke to the jailor, she said they have received an e-mail but they cannot release Priyanka on the basis of it," Sikandar had told news agency ANI. He added that the jailor suggested them to get in touch with the concerned Judicial Magistrate. Sikandar said that he will meet DG prison on Wednesday and secure Priyanka's release.

"The jailor has asked us to speak to concerned Chief Judicial Magistrate. Tomorrow we will also speak to DG prison. We are hopeful that we can take Priyanka home tomorrow," he had said. While hearing Priyanka's bail plea, the SC said on Tuesday that bail will be granted to her only if she agrees to give a written apology to the West Bengal chief minister for her action. The top court later waived this condition and ordered her immediate release from judicial custody.

"Subject to Priyanka Sharma tendering an apology in writing for putting up an objectionable picture on Facebook account, she shall be immediately released. At the time of release, she shall tender an apology in writing," a vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna earlier had said. The SC then called back Sharma's lawyer and informed him about its decision about waiving the condition of written apology. During the hearing, Priyanka's lawyer had said that seeking a written apology from his client will amount to infringement of the Right to Freedom of Speech. Priyanka was arrested on a complaint by a Trinamool Congress member and was sent to 14 days judicial custody by a Howrah court.