Neighbours of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra have alleged that the police have distorted or falsified their statements to implicate him in the ‘Dushtu Lok Vanish’ cartoon email case that agitated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and led to the professor’s arrest in April this year.
Mahapatra forwarded to several resident-members of his housing society in Kolkata pictures of Mamata and her party colleagues Mukul Roy and Dinesh Trivedi with speech balloons adapting a famous scene from Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella to a satirical take on Trivedi’s removal after this year’s railway budget.
The police have accused Mahapatra of criminal intimidation and causing annoyance, insult, injury and hatred by sending the email. The chargesheet, which reached Mahapatra’s lawyer two days ago, accuses him under section 66A(b)(c) of the Information Technology Act (sending offensive messages through a communication device), read with section 109 IPC (abetment), and says both Mahapatra and the housing society secretary Subrata Sengupta (accused no. 2) should face trial.
The chargesheet, a copy of which has been accessed by The Indian Express, includes statements by 29 people in support of the prosecution’s case. Thirteen of these statements are from members of the society who received the email, the other 16 are from outsiders.
Several member-recipients told The Indian Express that their statements attached with the chargesheet were “not true”, “distorted”, and different from what they had told investigators who had contacted them by phone.
Dr Kunal Roy, scientist at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology:
The statement attached by the Mamata cartoon: Police ‘quote’ prof’s neighbours; they say lies, distortion
Police quotes him as saying: “On 23.3.12, I received an email message which was sent from the official email ID of our society... The contents of the concerned email is very much offending. I became annoyed for sending of such email...”
Dr Roy told The Indian Express: “To the query on the telephone from the police station, the crux of my response was that I thought that the email message sent by Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra was done in a light-hearted manner without meaning any harm, and I did not think that there had been any reason to create so much fuss about it... The statement attributed to me was never read out or explained to me.”
Arjun Kumar Roy, retired engineer:
The chargesheet quotes him: “I received an email from the official email ID from New Garia Housing Cooperative Society. Very surprisingly, the contents