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An irony of sort over cartoon episode in Bengal


SNEHANGSHU ADHIKARI | Kolkata, April 14, 2012 14:15
Tags : cartoon episode | Ambikesh Mahapatra | West Bengal |Mamata Banerjee |

An irony of sort over cartoon episodeAn irony of sort seems in play in the state of West Bengal. On the one hand a legendary cartoonist is being felicitated, but on the other hand a professor is being incarcerated for expressing an opinion in a sarcastic way.

While the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is set to inaugurate ‘Bantul The Great’, a popular Bengali comic strip by Narayan Debnath translated into English first time, at Writer's building on Saturday, the Bengali New Year, the Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was imprisoned and later released on bail for allegedly circulating a caricature of Mamata.

The two incidences have made the people perplexed during New Year celebrations in the state.

The state government's decision to felicitate Debnath, a cartoonist who holds the world record of creating more than 1500 comics, and action against Mahapatra has clearly exposed the double-faced attitude of the state government.

Prominent feminist writers in Odisha Sarojini Sahoo commented on a social network site, “I condemn the arrest of Ambikesh Mohapatra, a Professor of Jadavpur University, for allegedly posting a cartoon on Mamata Banerjee. Is not Didi following the fascist way to rule her Bengal? I remember an Odia drama, ‘Jane Raja Thile” by veteran dramatist Bijay Mishra.”

Mahapatra is facing charges under Section 66 of the IT Act, 2000 and Section 500, 509 and 114 of the IPC for defaming Mamata and others, by circulating a mail consisting of cartoon of Mamata.

Felicitation of Debnath comes in the backdrop of commemoration of golden jubilee celebration of ‘Handa-Bhonda’, the second most popular comic of the octogenarian cartoonist. Bantul The Great has been translated by USA-based Bengali author Ananya Das and the cover page has been designed by another renowned illustrator and cartoonist Uday Dev.

Mamata has also assured Debnath to preserve his legendary works of last five decades. This would include the copyright issue too. In addition, the state Government has also announced amount of Rs. 10,000 per month as pension to him.
But for the professor the Bengali populace seems to have taken the cudgel.  The people have came out in protest against the treatment meted out to the academic for expressing his opinion. The pages of social networking site like ‘Banglar Rajniti’, ‘Rajnitir Adda’, ‘Maa-Maati-Maanus’ are literally flooded with protest against such undemocratic approach of Mamata’s government. The chatter against Mamata's approach is only growing at street corners too.

“Mamta Banerjee feels insecure, doesn't have a sense of humour and she is unfit to occupy a high place which is meant to serve the society and not one's ego! Let her move around and meet the common people. Then she will enjoy life of her own and others!!” says one facebook post.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017