Kolkata: Finally an attempt at damage control by the West Bengal government in an anti-Mamata Banerjee cartoon row. Four alleged Trinamool Congress workers were arrested on Saturday for assaulting Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra who was on Friday arrested for allegedly spreading 'anti-Mamata Banerjee' cartoons on the Internet. But unlike the professor who spent a night behind bars, the accused were let off on bail almost immediately.
Mahapatra, a teacher with the Chemistry Department of the University, and his neighbour, Subrata Sengupta, were picked up on Thursday night by the police for allegedly forwarding cartoons of the West Bengal Chief Minister.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has been receiving flak from different quarters - be it her one-time friends, her foes or allies - for the action taken against the professor.
Dissident Trinamool Leader Kabir Suman said, "The Chief Minister is the government. She is suffering from a strange paranoia and persecution mania."
CPI-M Leader Md Salim said, "The basic philosophy of Trinamool Congress has a lack of basic democratic values and there is no tolerance from top to bottom."
Despite the government intimidation, social networking websites like Facebook remain flooded with anti-Mamata cartoons. But in a parallel case the state CID is probing a complaint of defamatory content against the chief minister on such websites.
Intellectuals say these are attacks on the freedom that Kolkata has long enjoyed.
Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University, Sukanta Chaudhuri said, "When something like this happens it is so against the grain of our life and experience here that we find it very deeply disturbing, very ominous."
Jadavpur University professor Supriya Chaudhuri said, "I also think that it is frightening for the prospects that it holds out for the future."
Many feel that this apparent lack of humor and extreme intolerance towards things that are even remotely critical of the government is perhaps indicative of a bigger malaise - that of Mamata Banerjee's compulsions to defend the nuisance that her supporters are routinely indulging in.