Professor held for anti-Mamata cartoons

Kolkata: A Jadavpur University professor was arrested today for allegedly posting a cartoon on the internet showing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in poor light after she forced out Dinesh Trivedi and put Mukul Roy in his place as Railway minister.

The arrest of Ambikesh Mohapatra, a Chemistry professor, sparked an outrage with opposition CPI-M and the academic community saying the police action is "highly atrocious" and a "clear assault" on the minimum democratic right of freedom of expression. The professor was later granted bail by an Alipore court. Protests were also held by students and the professor`s colleagues at the Jadavpur university campus here.

DCP (south suburban division) Sujay Chanda said the professor was arrested along with a neighbour residing in east Jadavpur for spreading derogatory messages against "respectable persons" on a popular social networking site. Mohapatra was charged with IPC offences relating to defamation and insulting the modesty of women as well as cyber crime offences, Police said. Labour minister Purnendu Bose justified the arrest. He argued that the objectionable content was not a cartoon, but real pictures, which were nothing but an insult.

"Law will take its own course," he said. The cartoon in question, which was also sent by e-mail, showed chief minister and the railway minister apparently exchanging dialogues from a popular Bengali film Sonar Kella, a detective masterpiece by Satyajit Ray, which alluded to the replacement of Trivedi by Roy as Railway minister.

"The arrest is a clear assault on the democratic right of freedom of expression. It is like very much what happened during Emergency," CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said. Karat`s party colleague Md Salim said the police action is highly ridiculous and highly atrocious.