Does this need lampooning?
IE reports on Mamata Banerjee’s latest attempt to stifle dissent:
A professor of chemistry at the Jadavpur University was today arrested for allegedly circulating by e-mail a cartoon lampooning Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police (south suburban division) Sujoy Chanda said: ”Professor Ambikesh Mohapatra has been arrested for spreading derogatory messages against respectable people,” .
Mohapatra, a professor of Chemistry, was arrested and taken to the East Jadavpur Police station early today.
It is understood the cartoon was a spoof on director Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Sonar Kella’, substituting its main characters with Mamata Banerjee, Railway Minister Mukul Roy and former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, to parody the recent Rail Budget fiasco.
One supposes that it is only in Kolkata that speaking against respectable people (bhadralok) is a crime. HT reports that the police were hand-in-glove with a bunch of not-so-respectable political rowdies:
Police arrested Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor of chemistry of Jadavpur University for sending e-mails that show chief minister Mamata Banerjee, former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and railway minister Mukul Roy in a poor light.
Police sources say Subrata Sengupta, a neighbour of Mahapatra, has also been arrested. Among the charges slapped against the two are some sections of the IT Act.
Trinamool Congress supporters attacked him at his residence at New Garia on Thursday night. They accused him to sending disparaging e-mails that showed chief minister, railway minister and the former railway minister in a poor light, and uploading the cartoon on his Facebook account.
According to Jadavpur University sources, police arrived at the scene when the Trinamool supporters were heckling the professor. Police picked him up and took him to the East Jadavpur police station. He was shown arrested on Friday morning.
Deccan Herald quoted a critic:
The arrest has evoked widespread criticism.Trinamool Congress rebel MP Kabir Suman, condemning the arrest, 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.”
A report in HT makes out a case of intimidation and breaking of the law by the police:
“If one commits an offence, he has to face arrest. Conspiracies won’t be tolerated,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the afternoon.
“I am not repentant for my act,” Mahapatra said in the evening. He told the media that his house was stormed by several Trinamool Congress supporters on Thursday evening, and they forced him to write a letter declaring he was a CPI(M) supporter and had deliberately sent the e-mail.
The police slapped IPC sections 500 (punishment of defamation), 509 (make obsence gesture to a woman), 114 (abettor present when offence is committed), and sections 66 A and B (sending offensive communication) of the IT Act.
Mahapatra also claimed the police never told him that he could obtain bail from the East Jadavpur police station itself where he was taken on Thursday night. Incidentally, all the sections of IPC and IT Act slapped against Mahapatra and Sengupta were bailable sections, which means the accused could take bails from the police station without being produced to the court.