Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mohapatra, who was arrested on Friday for posting a spoof on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the internet, has vowed not to be cowed down.
“I’m not sorry and will again send such emails in the future,” Mohapatra said on Saturday, simultaneously betraying his fear for his life. “I’m not free of insecurity.”
Following Mohapatra’s complaint, the police arrested Trinamool Congress activists Amit Sardar, Arup Mukherjee, Sheikh Mustafa and Nishikanta Gharai for allegedly heckling him on Thursday night.
While all four walked out on bail, anger was building against Banerjee amongst activists.
Civil rights activist Rajinder Sachar said curbing freedom of speech and expression was condemnable. “If the caricature was defamatory, one could have approached the courts. But using the police is not justified,” he said.
Medha Patkar, who shared the dais with Banerjee during her anti-Left movement, said she was “shocked”.
“Power has gone to her (Banerjee’s) head. This is a fascist trend that people won’t appreciate,” said BD Sharma, the mediator in the recent Maoist hostage crisis in Odisha.
Support for Mohapatra spilled on to Kolkata’s streets, with over 300 activists of the All India Democratic Students Organisation blocking roads.
The police were, meanwhile, out to track the person who first uploaded on Facebook the spoof featuring Banerjee, railway minister Mukul Roy and his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi.
“We may ask Facebook to provide details. We will also take the help of service providers like Google and Yahoo to find the creator of the spoof,” said an officer of the cyber crime wing.
Facebook India director (operations) Kirthiga Reddy couldn’t be reached on the phone for her response.