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Video: Prof arrested for posting anti-Mamata cartoon gets bail

Last updated on: April 13, 2012 21:53 IST

Prof arrested for posting anti-Mamata cartoon gets bail

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Meghatithi Banerjee in Kolkata

A professor of chemistry of the Jadavpur University was arrested on Friday along with his neighbour for allegedly posting a cartoon on a popular social networking site involving West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Railway Minister Mukul Roy and former Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi. He was later released on bail.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (south suburban division) Sujay Chanda said that Professor Ambikesh Mohapatra was arrested along with a neighbour residing in east Jadavpur for spreading derogatory messages against "respectable persons".

The cartoon showed the chief minister and the railway minister exchanging dialogues from a popular Bengali film by Satyajit Ray, which alluded to the replacement of Dinesh Trivedi by Mukul Roy as railway minister.

With inputs from PTI

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The arrests triggered a reaction from various circles with state labour minister Purnendu Bose justifying the police action. Bose argued that it was not a cartoon, but real pictures, which were nothing but an insult.

Political parties, however, slammed Trinamool for the arrest of the professor. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress joined in a chorus to flay the Mamata Banerjee government for setting a "dangerous trend of silencing cartoonists" by arresting them for criticising political leaders.

Expressing surprise at the arrest of a professor of Jadavpur University for allegedly posting cartoons on a social networking site, Leader of Opposition Suryakanta Mishra said, "It shows lack of patience of the state government which has poor knowledge that everyone has the right of expression."

The CPI(M) leader described the police action as "unprecedented".

BJP state president Rahul Sinha said there had been "dangerous cartoons" in the past against Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Jyoti Basu and others "but no political party took any action against any cartoonist."

"Are we really heading for a party-sponsored emergency?" Sinha said.

A leader of TMC ally, Congress' Om Prakash Mishra dubbed the arrest as "unfortunate".

"Law will take its own course," he said. 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 arrests. "What has been forwarded in the website is aninnocent 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 Mamata Banerjee in recent time, condemned the arrest and said it was made "on a flimsy ground".

The translation of the cartoon:

The cartoon is a spoof on the dialogues from the film Sonar Kella by Satyajit Ray. It is the story of Mukul, a kid who recalls his past life including a golden fortress (sonar kella). Two goons kidnap Mukul as they hope to unearth the treasure from the house.

In their bid, they attempt to murder a psychiatrist Dr Hajra, who is accompanying Mukul to Rajasthan to find out truths about his past life.

The cartoon is based on a particular scene in the film where one of the goons (played by Kamu Mukherjee) pushes Dr Hajra from a cliff while the other goon starts impersonating Dr Hajra thereafter.

When Mukul asks about the original Dr Hajra, the goons tell him that he was a dushtu lok (a bad person), hence was made to vanish. The cartoon that drew Mamata's ire depicts her pointing at the railways and asking Mukul Roy if he can see the sonar kella?

The next bit of the spoof has Mukul pointing at Dinesh Trivedi and stating, Ota dushtu lok! (That is the bad guy)

The last part has Mamata gleefully saying, dushtu lok? Vanish!

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Image: The cartoon was posted on Facebook


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Prof arrested for posting anti-Mamata cartoon gets bail

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Professors and students on Friday organised protests rallies against the arrest of Professor Mahapatra.

The professors carrying placards marched singing 'we shall overcome' and were shortly joined by two other rallies led by students' unions -- Students Federation of India and Democratic Students Organisation -- carrying torches.   
 
After being released on bail Professor Mahapatra held a press conference at Jadavpur University. He told reporters that he was sorry for using the society's email account for sending the controversial cartoon but he was not sorry for making the cartoon.

Noted writer Sunil Gangopadhyay said that 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," he said.The writer demanded immediate release of the professor.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee however defended the arrest of the professor over his cartoons on the internet putting her in poor light and she blamed CPI-M for raising trivial issues to "malign" her.

 

"They don't do any work but think of ways to frame me," Banerjee said targeting the CPI-M hours after the police action against Ambikesh Mohapatra that led to a strong condemnation from the academic community and the Left.

 

"...They commit crimes and once people are arrested they run it on their channels for the whole day," she said at a public event. The Trinamool Congress supremo warned this will not be allowed to go on.

 

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Renowned writer Mahasweta Devi denounced the incident. "It's shameful," she told rediff.com over telephone. "I have run out of words to express myself," she said. "I am in pain, an intolerable pain," she added.

Mahasweta Devi has often protested in public against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's high-handedness. It is ironic, as the writer in the past had been one of the biggest critics of the erstwhile Left Front government of the state and had been one of the most vocal supporters of Banerjee. She had hailed Banerjee's ascent to power in the state in 2011 as the 'beginning of a new era' in Bengal.




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