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Didi, will I be arrested too?

14 April 2012 1,634 views 20 Comments

I could not believe this piece of *news* when I first read it..You may not too. Thanks to Sh Krishen Kak and Dr Kalyanarama-ji for alerting me to this. Pl have a look at the image below:

The ‘cartoon’ that led to JU professor’s arrest. From top to bottom: 1. Mamata Banerjee points to Indian Railways’ logo and tells Mukul Roy: “See Mukul, the Golden Fortress”; 2. Mukul Roy points to former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi and exclaims: “That’s an evil man!!!”; 3. Mamata says: “Evil man, vanish!”

Apparently, this “image” – or to be more precise circulating this “image” via email has landed a person in jail.

Professor Ambikesh Mahaptara of Jadavpur University was arrested this morning (Fri) for forwarding derogatory cartoons about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.

The cartoons are based on Sonar Kella, the famed movie by Satyajit Ray, showing two peple in a dialogue. The mail forwarded by Professor Mahapatra allegedly shows Mamta Banerjee and Mukul Roy, Central Railway Minister of plotting together to get rid of former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi. The professor is supposed to have forwarded the mail to atleast 65 people.

“Professor Ambikesh Mohapatra has been arrested for spreading derogatory messages against respectable persons,” said Sujoy Chanda, Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata, without divulging the names of those who are supposed to have been defamed. Subrata Sengupta, Professor Mahapatra’s neighbour has also been arrested…reports state that in retaliation to this (i.e. “spreading derogatory messages“), he was (also) attacked by workers of Trinammol Congress, as he returned home from work.

The chemistry professor..has been booked under Section 66 of Information Technology Act, 2000 and Section 500 of Indian Penal Code, which mounts up to punishment for defamation. [link]

There is no doubt that the Professor has been arrested although the charges are not yet clear.

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. The cartoon in question has been doing the rounds in West Bengal after Mamata forced Trivedi out of the rail ministry and put Roy in his place. Apparently, the cartoon is a caricature of Satyajit Ray’s detective masterpiece on celluloid Sonar Kella. The police have come to know Mahapatra has sent the mail to about 65 people. However, it is not yet clear what are the charges that the police has slapped against the professor. [link]

This NDTV clip suggests that he was arrested for insutling the modesty of a woman, humiliating women, defamation and sending offensive messages through a computer. He has since been released on bail and apparently after writing a “letter”. Unbelievable, right? If you share my outrage (and I do hope you do), please share this post/ link with all your friends and family…Make sure this is widely read..and make sure that Didi understands that India has moved far beyond censorship.

P.S. At least some of you may remember Mamata-Di’s recent move to “limit” the number of newspapers in state-libraries. So much for “Poribartan”.

IMPORTANT: I am waiting for independent verification of these reports. If it turns out that the Professor was *not* arrested for sharing/spreading this image, I will delete this post and publicly apologise on this  blog to Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress. As of now, I am standing by this post.

By the way, defamation laws are a major “risk” in India. To understand better, please read: On Scandalous Information and “high-profile” people

Somewhat RelatedRetiring to become an Imam in Paschim Banga*.. and On Blogs, Comments, Liability and Being Sued

Images Attrribution: Professors’s photograph, courtesy IndiaWires; “Cartoon” courtesy, BharatKalyan97

20 Comments »

  • 1. Munish Raizada said:

    Good reply!
    Mamta Baanerjee is increasingly becoming more intolerant. She thinks she can dictate her ways. Power has gotten into her head. Such politicians are a disgrace and threat to our democracy and free society. It is high time that we stand up to her dictatorial attitude before she does further damage. On a similar note, Mamta Banerjee is a typical example of a mediocre, average educated grass-root political worker rising to a top position and thinking that they represent the real face of politics and aspiration of people. India deserves better leaders.

  • 2. Armchair Guy said:

    It’s not just defamation laws. I think there should be laws making it harder for politicians to order action by police/investigative forces. Such orders should come under RTI scrutiny.

    Various governments have used and are currently using the police, CBI, and tax authorities to intimidate and revenge themselves on people who have displeased them in various ways. Examples are too many to recount.

    Mamata went beyond ordering the police to arrest Professor Mahapatra — she has been defending her action and calling the cartoon a conspiracy.

  • 3. Sanjeev Sabhlok said:

    Great. Thanks for alerting me, Shantanu. I’d like people to WIDELY circulate this cartoon and court arrest. I’ve challenged Mamata to arrest me (by issuing extradition proceeding):

    http://sabhlokcity.com/2012/04/arrest-me-if-you-dare-you-miserable-incompetent-corrupt-dictator-mamata-banerjee/

    As I’ve written:

    If we don’t fight for freedom of speech in India, the lights of all freedoms may be permanently snuffed out.

    For 60 years we did not fight.

    We did not fight when they snuffed out property rights. We did not fight when they stopped people from engaging in the occupation of their choice. We did not fight when they funded religious bodies and religious events and divided us by religion. We did fight when enforced reservations and split India asunder.

    Now this is the last chance.

    If we don’t fight now, expect the government to take this as a signal that Indians just don’t care for their liberty.

    Unite. Speak up and be counted. Do whatever you can to fight this oppression. Show the government of India that YOU count.

  • 4. B Shantanu (author) said:

    There seems to be more to the story..Excerpt from Professor resisted TMC contractors from getting into housing society:
    Behind the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra under several sections of IPC and IT Act for allegedly circulating a cartoon derogatory to Mamata Banerjee, lies a story of powergrab.
    For three years, Mahapatra has been assistant secretary of the New Garia Housing Cooperative Society and Subrata Sengupta its secretary. Sengupta was arrested as well in the cartoon case.
    Sources said local TMC leaders who control the “building material-supply syndicates” in the neighbourhood have been upset with Mahapatra and Sengupta. Reason: Both had blocked contracts all to these TMC-backed contractors after questions over alleged misappropiation of funds by their predecessors in the society which has 450 independent homes.
    Several times, sources said, Mahapatra was allegedly threatened and told not to contest the housing society election scheduled for May 20.
    …However, yesterday, when I was being beaten up, I was repeatedly asked to write that I am resigning from the post of the assistant secretary of the housing society.”

  • 5. Nisha said:

    India is pseudo democratic country.
    This is the fate! This country is run by corrupt dictators. It is so sad to read this kind of news. We need a private TV channel like Peace TV so our voices are heard.

  • 6. malavika said:

    In the land of ‘free speech’ criticizing Sonia Maino can lead to arrest. Have you noticed the silence of the lambs who were shrieking about MFH right to porn and bestiality.

    http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Gurgaon-techie-held-for-posting-derogatory-messages-against-Sonia-Gandhi-on-Orkut/311070/

    “Deputy Commissioner of Police Sunil Phulari dispatched a team of cyber crime cell comprising of assistant commissioner Netaji Shinde, assistant inspector Chandrakant Thakur, constables Navnath Walke and Sunil Shelke to Haryana.

    The police team nabbed Vaid at his residence on Friday evening. The accused was brought to Pune by flight and produced before the Shivajinagar court on Saturday. Vaid has been remanded to police custody till May 21. If proved guilty, Vaid could be imprisoned for up to five years and may have to pay a fine up to Rs one lakh.

    During interrogations, Vaid told the police that he posted the message because he hated Sonia Gandhi and was not aware that it would lead to a police case.

    Vaid is a commerce graduate and was working in the hardware department of an IT company in Gurgaon. “

  • 7. Dipak Chakrabarti said:

    In February of this year, Sri Tapan Ghosh, founder of HINDU SAMHATI wantwd to celebrate 4th anniversary of HS. Muslims protested.Mamata banned the meeting. Tapan Ghosh went to high court to lift the ban. He was succesful in doing so. He was arrested after the meeting.

  • 8. Mike said:

    In 34 years, what CPI(M) has done is ruining the economy of WB, its work culture and and the millions of victims were the result of its tyranic and barbaric rule. They systematically destroyed the educational system and even pushed party cadres as teachers and professors and even at highest possible level of education. Being an anti-national party and a militant outfit, I wonder how they dare to defame the CM who has been working selflessly for the development of the state. She has removed the political party unions in police and colleges. Being a woman, she accepted the challenge of the chair with more than INR 200,000 Crores loan that was the gift of CPI(M). This whole outfit named CPI(M) must be banned. I wish the exemplary worst possible punishment against the persons who have the audacity of defaming her.

  • 9. Malavika said:

    @Mike,

    We are a democracy not a totalitarian fascist state. So, we Indians have a right to criticize and lampoon our leaders. You might think that she is ‘Goddess’ who must not be criticized, well others have entirely different opinion.
    Looks like Mamta is going to end up like CPI(M), in the next elections.

  • 10. utpal chaudhuri said:

    if you read the English language newspapers, you will get a lot of disinformation about what has happened with respect to the arrest of the professor. I have read the Bengali newspapers like DAINIK STATESMAN AND PRATIDIN. The latter is pro-Trinomool but the former newspaper is more or less balanced and belongs to the Statesman group. It appears that the episode of protests and rallies is cover for hiding the game of oneupmanship between two warring groups in the CPI(M )
    It can be said that that Mamata`s handling of the cartoon episode has been immature. But the day in and day out demonising of TMC Govt by some news channels both in Kolkata and in the national capital who are close to the ruling party at the centre is exasperating as it is based on wilful disinformation with a political agenda. May I suggest that you form an opinion after accessing the information contained in those two newspapers from their websites.

  • 11. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Thanks Utpal: Unfortunately I cannot read Bengali..but always good to hear the “other side” of the story.

  • 12. Munish Raizada said:

    Dear Mr Utpal Chaudhuri: ” It can be said that that Mamata`s handling of the cartoon episode has been immature.” are very mild words compared to “demonising of TMC” that you think. Let us stick to one point: Why arrest some one (Prof Mahapatra) for circulating a cartoon and then slapping charges that do not even remotely exist? So much for freedom of expression! Tomorrow it can be you and me also ( by the way, I do not live in W Bengal).

  • 13. Shantanu Dey said:

    Mamata has been a target of MSM much before she came to power and she is partly responsible for that. He major limitations are that she is hot headed, egoistic, hasty and perhaps she suffers from a deep feeling of insecurity. The latter may be the result of many betrayals she suffered in her political career. To be objective, she is personally honest and perhaps less cruel and a lot less subtle than her rival CP(I)M. The major difference between CP(I)M and her party is that, while CP(I)M did many of the things that her partymen are currently doing, in secret, and over a longer period of time and probably on a much larger scale, her partymen are doing it openly.

    If I remember correctly, such incidents were rampant in previous regime, particularly during Jyoti Basu’s rule. Nobody could trace the hapless Bhikhari Paswan who, picked up by Jyoti Basu’s police, simply disappeared. And there were many more. Only their cases were never reported. Do we even remember the young journalist of North Bengal who was killed simply because of a report against a certain section of CP(I)M in early nineteen nineties?

    However you should note that the same MSM which probably ignores similar incidents in Congress ruled states and which was generally silent during big massacres committed by the former ruling party in West Bengal, nowadays highlights even relatively smaller incidents in West Bengal. Probably being Congress sympathizer, they find her to be a major irritant for Congress.

  • 14. VS Chauhan said:

    I’m sorry, I can’t see any possible justification for this dictatorial act. You arrest a University professor for circulating a cartoon of the CM?? How do the evil CPM/ MSM demonizing Mamata come into the picture here? If such acts happened during the previous regime, it doesn’t mean that Mamata is justified in acting similarly. There might be any number of mediamen attacking Mamata…sorry, that still doesn’t justify arresting the Professor. Mamata seems to be heavily inspired by Indira and her Emergency ways: if anyone dares to go after you, just put them behind bars and claim you are acting in the best interests of the state/nation.

  • 15. utpal chaudhuri said:

    Dear Shantanu, thanks for your willingness to hear the other side of the story. It is unfortunate that you cannot get to know the balanced two-sided views in respect of the cartoon incident because obviously you cannot read Bengali. Let me mention that Mamata has a very very difficult task in redeeming Bengal from the low depths of degeneration in every sphere of civilised life caused by the partisan and cruelly efficient in respect of liquidating the oppositional voice by the earlier 34-year-lasting regime. Life is improving by little baby steps now. For instance I will give an example. Yesterday I got a Greetings Card from the Police Commissioner of the area advising me the number of a 24/7 tele-line for any help. This is new in Bengal and perhaps in India. This is of course will not be considered very substantive. In the cultural sphere the the morning-memorable icons like Rabindranath and others were banished into the margins of consciousness by the CPI (M) and Mamata is trying to bring them into mainstream reading and Bengalis are lapping it up . At least I do and I donot apologise for it. The crib-deaths etc. happened earlier also but since the CPI (M ) had a large phalanx of advocates and sympathisers in Delhi this did not create much of a wave in the MSM.
    Now coming to the cartoon incident certain facts need to be placed in perspective for better understanding. Apart from the Kolkata English newspapers I read also Asian Age and The Indian Express. Hilarious caricatures of Didi are published in those papers and I enjoy them. Nothing happens in respect of those cartoons as these cartoons are not intentionally malicious. With regard to the present incident for which Mamata is being coruscated, we must examine Prof. Mahapatra`s credentials.
    1)Pof. Mahapatra joined Jadavpur University–a centre of excellence according to UGC–without being a doctorate-degree-holder.He joined the University in 80s decade. he was allegedly an election agent of Buddhadev Bhattacharya, the erstwhile chief minister. Does not a big untold unmentioned tale hang thereby?
    2)He is allegedly an assistant secretary of the CPI (M) run management committe of the housing society where he stays.
    ) It has been alleged that he has been harassed/ beaten/ manhandeled by TMC members running a suppliers`syndicate which has supplied building materials to the society in the past. The TMC govt is not even one-year old. How could the suppliers be TMC men and why should the society buy from TMC men when there suppliers galore owing allegiance to CPI (M )
    4)If there have been protests and rallies in support of the Prof. there have been counter rallies also which have not been focoussed on in the MSM.
    5)I have never seen a cartoon where the actual images of the persons caricatured are imposed on the picture matrix. If anybody has seen it I would like to get the ref.
    6)It is very easy to say that Mamata is impulsive, emotional etc in a pejorative sense. I find these traits of her character positive qualities. It is good that she is not an emotion-less persona like Jyoti Basu. I have always cherished what Keats the English poet has written in one of his letters. It runs like this–”there is a holiness in the heart`s affection”
    7) A previous poster has objected to my using the word “demonising” . What I had a specifically in mind was the daily debates in a Bengali news TV Channel where the moderator/ anchor is asking loaded questions and deliberately giving direction where the debate should go. This channel belongs to the same media group whose widely circulated English newspaper cravenly surrendered and apologised for publishing a cartoon which a religious minority found offensive and it is not the Danish cartoon. No sqweak about freedom expression from the group which is getting onto the road everyday in support of Prof. Mahapatra. And why did we not hear anything from the advocates of freedom of expression when Taslima was hounded out of Bengal?

  • 16. Munish Raizada said:

    Utpal ji: You keep the ”there is a holiness in the heart`s affection” (for Mamta Banerjee), it is not an issue for public interest. What I am saying again is that even if Mr Mahapatra is a REGISTERED CPM activist or voter (though such concept does not exist in India), he has all the right to circulate a cartoon lampooning Mamta Banerjee provided the cartoon. In a democracy, you have that right, I have that right. If police picks up someone for this benign act, then it is a threat to democracy and freedom of speech. As I said previously, tomorrow it can well be you and me in place of Mr Mahapatra. Please be objective.

  • 17. VS Chauhan said:

    I agree completely with Munish ji’s sentiments. I maintain that Mamata’s act is that of an arrogant dictator who does not recognize the concept of free speech.

  • 18. Shantanu Dey said:

    @ Mr. Chauhan :)

    Have not justified Mamata’s action. Its definitely worth condemning even though she is following the footsteps of Sonia G in this matter. This provision in IT act has already been used by Congress Govt in Maharastra several times.

    What I tried highlighting was the lopsided view that media has taken in this matter. Do you even remember the Bangalorean who was picked up and kept in police custody in Pune for 50 days simply because his IP was used in putting up a facebook page against the Congress president?
    In an ideal society there should be a balanced approach in condemning and demonizing. If the same crime committed by one is ignored or trivialized and another is brought into prominence, then it is suspicious.Objectiveness is not simply condemning what is wrong, but condemning all similar cases.

  • 19. VS Chauhan said:

    You’re right, Dey ji. By the way, I’m more of an anti Congressman than most people are. As a regular follower of Satyameva Jayate on facebook, I can recall robust criticism of attempts at censorship by all concerned. And I also recollect supporting these posts. If rulers in a democracy stifle free speech, they should get out and aspire for power in places more conducive to their thinking. North Korea for instance.

  • 20. utpal chaudhuri said:

    Dear Munish-ji, I think my quote from John Keats has been misunderstood for which perhaps I am in fault. The quote occurs in the collected volume of Keats`letters, a major early 19th century poet and the volume has been continuously reprinted. I think this speaks for the fact such statement has public interest value. The quote is in a antiquated language whose modern-day version would be something like ” ability to easily correlate or empathise has a great success value or survival value.”
    In one of many Bengali language newspapers today , there is news item about the mother and grandmother of Dr Parthasarathy Roy, the scientist, who was arrested for maoist links as alleged. Both the ladies submitted a prayer application to Mamata personally to bail out the son/grandson. Mamata has not only seen to it that the accused is released on bail. Not only that she had tele-conversations twice and asked in her own brand style the mom and grandmom ” has the grandson come back? Are you happy now ?” According to the news item, both the ladies were overwhelmed with emotion at Mamata`s gesture though her police arrested their son/ grandson. ( Source: Sakaal Bela (Morning Time))
    Point No. 2. In today`s Asian Age there is cartoon about Mamata`s alleged dictatorial attitude and a very strong one. This can be seen in the paper`s website. There is no problem about that cartoon because there is no ulterior motive because Sudhir the cartoonist is doing this in respect of all political leaders.
    Point No 3. As I have said in my earlier post , I do not consider this to be a cartoon. The credentials and history of Prof.Mahapatra make it difficult for me to accept that this was an attepmt at innocent fun-making. This was done with malice aforethought.
    Point No 4. To modify Marx`s opening statement in his book The 18th Brumaire it appears that history repeats itself sometimes as tragedy again again and not as farce and tragedy in that order. In 1999 a person was arrested in Kolkata for drawing a cartoon about Jyoti Basu and Somnath Chatterjee. The person was kept in prison for 122 days and he was released after intervention of the Supreme Court. Marx and Lenin advised their followers to learn from history but today`s protesters have forgotten their own history. Perhaps the mighty leopards have forgotten their own spots.
    Point no. 5. We think this argument is moving in circle and I would therefore pause and rest my case with this. I have read in one of Aldous Huxley`s essays that unless one is previously convinced nothing would convince him. There is a live broadcast going on in a Bengali news channel on Mamata`s meeting with senior doctors about health sector improvement. I would turn my eyes thereto.
    Thanks for giving me space for writing this.

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