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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Ambikesh Mahapatra knocks on PMO door

Orin Basu, Hindustan Times   Kolkata, May 16, 2013
First Published: 17:45 IST(16/5/2013) | Last Updated: 17:54 IST(16/5/2013)

Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra shot off a second letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Tuesday requesting urgent intervention in implementing recommendations of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which had asked the state government to provide compensation to him and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta in the 2012 cartoon incident involving chief minister Mamata Banerjee and former railway minister Mukul Roy.
 
Mahapatra had earlier written to the PMO on December 5 last year, three months after the SHRC recommended providing Rs. 50,000 each as compensation to the duo. The rights body also called for departmental proceedings against Milan Kanti Das and Sanjay Biswas, officers of the East Jadavpur police station.
 
The PMO had responded by intimating the state to take ‘immediate action’. But Mahapatra complained he is yet to receive any positive response from the government in this matter, Instead, the state administration shot down the proposals of the SHRC through a letter on May 3.
 
On the night of April 12, 2012, Mahapatra and Sengupta were first attacked by alleged Trinamool Congress supporters and then arrested by the East Jadavpur police for sending an e-mail containing a spoof on chief minister Mamata Banerjee and former railway minister Mukul Roy.
 
The Mamata Banerjee administration earned flak from different sections all over the country and even beyond for arresting the professor and his neighbour for sending what was widely interpreted as an innocent spoof.
"The point of my letter is not seeking compensation. But the PMO should intervene and uphold the dignity of the SHRC, which has been given the short shrift by the state government," Mahapatra told HT on Thursday. 
However, the state government had argued with the SHRC that Mahapatra and Sengupta were taken into custody for their safety.
 
Mahapatra also complained in the letter that the state took 37 weeks to reply though the SHRC had given only six weeks time from its judgment dated August 13 last year.
 
“After receiving the rejection letter, the human rights commission discussed the situation and sent its observations with explanations to the government of West Bengal on May 6, 2013. The human rights commission did not accept the reasons of rejection given by additional chief secretary and described the reasons for rejection as afterthought,” Mahapatra complained in the letter.
 
He also complained of insecurity in the way the government is ‘rejecting all recommendations of another constitutional body.’
 
“The Supreme Court recently expressed alarm at the gross misuse of section 66A of the IT Act by law enforcing authorities and issued notices to the Centre and other concerned states, including West Bengal seeking explanation for the arrests,” Mahapatra mentioned in the letter.

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April 12, 2012: Mahapatra assaulted by alleged Trinamool supporters
April 12, 2012: Mahapatra and Sengupta arrested
August 13, 2012: SHRC orders compensation
December 5, 2012: Mahapatra writes to PMO asking its intervention
December 18, 2012: PMO writes to state government for necessary action
May 3, 2013: State government turns down SHRC recommendations
May 14, 2013: Mahapatra shoots off second letter to PMO


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