How dangerous can a cartoon be? This seems to be the question many are asking themselves after Professor Ambikesh Mohapatra from the Jadavpur University was arrested for posting a political cartoon.

The cartoon is a spoof in which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Railway Minister Mukul Roy are featured talking about how to get rid of former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi. The cartoon is based on a scene from Satyajik Ray’s Bengali detective flick Sonar Kelly, in which a boy (representing the people of India) is convinced by two criminals (Banerjee and Roy) that they have finally vanished a “wicked man” (Trivedi), who is actually quite the opposite.

Not only does the illustration shine a negative light on the current chief minister, but it also alludes to the belief that Trivedi was wrongfully forced out of office last March. Although Mohapatra has been released on bail, leaders in India have been far from shy in voicing their opinions on the issue. A disappointed Trivedi stated that such journalistic expression is “an integral part of healthy democracy” and that “cartoons cannot destroy your image. It is the people who make your image and it is they who destroy it.” Mamata Banerjee herself, joined by political parties CPM, NJP, and congress, even defended the professor, condemning his arrest as a “dangerous trend in India for silencing cartoonists.”

 

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