Statement on Mamta Banerjee Cartoon

We are dismayed by the spiraling descent into irrationality of the administration in West Bengal state, in under a year since Mamata Banerjee took office as chief minister.

We believe the increasing illogic of the administration is inspired from the very top, by the impetuous and ill-considered statements and actions of the chief minister on every matter that falls within her gaze: crimes against women, the poor oversight of medical facilities, or the alarming deterioration in the quality of civic services.

Early hopes and beliefs some may have harboured, that the descent would be halted once the new ruling order consolidated itself, have been belied.

The West Bengal state government order issued late in March, prescribing in minute detail the newspapers that public libraries could subscribe to, was an unwarranted intrusion into the right of the people to seek information from any source of their choosing. In what is clearly a retaliatory move against newspapers that have been critical of certain official decisions since the Mamata Banerjee government took office, the circular left out the two most widely circulated Bengali language dailies and all English newspapers. Curiously, three dailies whose owner-editors were recently elected to the Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress tickets, find mention in the list.

It soon became evident that this effort to rig the decks in favour of friendly newspapers was part of a wider intolerance of dissent. By any account, the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra – after he had been roughed up by political cadre of the ruling party – for circulating over the internet a subtle joke about Mamata Banerjee’s leadership style, must rank among the gravest violations of the free speech right by an elected government in recent times.

We are also shocked at the continuing incarceration of Partho Sarothi Ray, an internationally renowned molecular biologist and professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, after he took part in a peaceful demonstration against the eviction of slum dwellers in the eastern part of the city. Though he was arrested in the course of the April 8 protests, he is being charged with involvement in an incident of April 4, when he was not even present.

We support the mounting  protest against such acts of brazen violation of basic democratic rights and call upon people all over the country to register their  protest.

Prof. J.V.Naik,
Prof. Rajiv Gupta,
Prof. Amar Farooqui,
Prof. Kesavan Veluthat,
Prof Mridula Mukherjee,
Prof. Aditya Mukherjee,
Prof. Irfan Habib,
Prof. Prabhat Patnaik,
Prof. Arjun Dev,
Prof. Indira Dev,
Prof. D. N. Jha,
Prof. C. P. Chandrasekhar,
Prof. Shireen Moosvi,
Prof. Iqdar Alam Khan,
Prof. Ramesh Rawat,
Prof. Wasi Hyder,
Prof. Saira I. Habib,
Prof. Atluri Murli,
Dr. Archana Prasad,
Prof. Shakti Kak,
Prof. Javeed Alam,
Sashi Kumar,
Madhu Prasad,
Fr Cedric Prakash,
Rekha Awasthi,
Venkatesh Athreya,
Nasir Tyabji,
Astad Deboo,
Saeed Mirza,
M. K. Raina,
Madan Gopal Singh,
Ram Rahman,
Sohail Hashmi,
Virendra Saini,
Teesta Setalvad,
Dr. P. K. Shukla,
Prof. Anil Bhatti,
Prof. J. M. Parakh,
Dr. Sanjeev Kumar,
Dr. Lata Singh,
Prof. Utsa Patnaik,
Prof. Jayati Ghosh,
Asad Zaidi,
Rajesh Joshi,
Moloyshree Hashmi,
Sudhanva Deshpande,
Indira Chandrasekhar,
Saroj Ganpath,
Girish Mishra,

Sudesh Sayal,
Zoya Hasan,
B. N. Uniyal,
Ruchira Gupta,
Santosh Kumar Rai,
Shaleen Jain,
Indira Mukherjee,
Anil Nauria,
Anil Sadgopal,
Badri Raina,
Aniket Alam,
Sukumar Murlidharan,
Ritu K Singh,
Jagdish Lal Dawar,
Daanish Raj
Shabnam Hashmi,
Rajendra Sharma,
Samvartha Sahil
Rahul Verma,
N. K. Sharma,
K. Ashok Rao,
M.M.P. Singh,
Vishnu Nagar,
Maya Krishna Rao,
S. Kalidas,
Chanchal Chauhan,
Mihir Bhattacharya,
Mukul Manglik,
Shesh Narain Singh,
Arjun Dev
Faiz Farooqui,
Vishva Mohan Jha,
Raja Jaikrishan,
Shiraz Husain,
Nalini Taneja,
Rani Sawhney,
Kavita Shrivastava,
John Dayal,
Kumi Chandra,
Faraz Ahmad,
Shilpi Rajpal,
Anil Chandra,
Sahba Taban,
Irfan Alam,
Shankar Chandra,
Prachi Narayan,
Kabir Chandra