Toongate: Rights panel’s recommendation for compensation rejected

Kolkata, May 6 (IANS) The West Bengal government has turned down the state human rights panel’s recommendations to compensate Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and his neighbour who were earlier arrested for circulating emails mocking Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, an official said Monday.

“The government has turned down the Commission’s recommendations made in the cartoon case, arguing that there was no violation of human rights of Mahapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta,” State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) joint secretary Sujay Haldar said.

Haldar said the government in its reply to the Commission May 3, has argued that police in fact had “rescued them” from an agitating mob by bringing them to the police station. However, by then an FIR had been lodged against them. So, they had to be arrested.

“The government in its arguments has also stated that both Mahapatra and Sengupta were offered bail by police immediately after their arrest (April 2012). But because they could not arrange for an advocate or furnish securities, they were not released,” said Haldar.

The Commission Aug 13, 2012 had recommended that Mahapatra and Sengupta be given a compensation of Rs.50,000 each for the manner they were arrested and detained for a non-cognizable offence.

The panel had also recommended initiating departmental proceedings against two police officers of East Jadavpur police station for effecting the arrests.

The Commission meanwhile has sent a reply to the government with its arguments against the Banerjee government asking its to reconsider its decision on the matter.

Human rights organisation Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) has condemned the government’s decision and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

The collage of cartoons by Mahapatra allegedly included the photographs of Banerjee and then railway minister Mukul Roy and used some dialogues of Satyajit Ray’s detective masterpiece “Sonar Kella”, showing the duo discussing how to get rid of party leader Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced by the chief minister to give up the railways portfolio.

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