Kolkata: First a ban
on certain newspapers and now the arrest of a professor for
allegedly circulating a cartoon targeting Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee. Is it "a move towards censorship and partial fascism" by
the state government or is the arrest justified "to stop spread of
malicious and slanderous campaign" - opinion in West Bengal is
Venting their anger against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for
arresting Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra for
allegedly circulating a defamatory cartoon, majority of
intellectuals and a cross-section of commoners Saturday said they
are "scared" by the trend the state government has set.
Mahapatra, a professor of physical chemistry, in his 50s, later
claimed he had sent the mail for "pure fun" to his friends.
Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, a noted writer, termed the incident as
"We feel pain when we see such incidents. We feel scared and
terrified," said Mukhopadhyay.
This is not the first time that Banerjee has drawn the ire of the
intellectuals and the citizens of the state. Last month, the state
government was severely criticised after it passed an order to
state-funded libraries to stock only specific eight vernacular
newspapers for promoting "free thinking" among readers.
"Whether it's a ban on newspapers or arrest of a professor of
Jadavpur University for circulating cartoons, I personally feel
both the decisions were politically incorrect," said Bhibas
Chakrabarty, theatre personality.
Noted writer Sunil Gangopadhya, too, criticised the arrest.
"I don't believe in commenting on each and every issue. But when
such kind of incidents happen how can I keep my mouth shut? This
incident is unacceptable," he said.
The common people, however, not only criticised the incident but
also felt that the chain of developments was a prelude to a
"What is she trying to do? Is she trying to throttle each and
every voice of protest? In democracy such things are
unacceptable," said Ramesh Ray, a software engineer.
"This is nothing but a move towards censorship and partial
fascism. If she tries to move on the same path the people of the
state will not forgive her," said Rashmita Dutta, a student.
However, some intellectuals supported the professor's arrest.
"The material which was circulated was not a cartoon. It was a
photograph of three individuals which was used to spread malicious
and slanderous campaign. I support the arrest," said noted painter
"I won't comment on the technicalities of the issue, but I
personally feel that Mamata should be given more time so that she
can perform," said Jogen Chowdhury, another famed painter.