19 March, 2013

Youth detained for query on Mamata

The Hindu
Kolkata, March 18, 2013

Whether it is a question about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or one directed at her, it could mean trouble for the person asking it, if not received well.
A youth was detained by the police at Maheshtala on the city’s southern outskirts on Sunday and bundled into a vehicle for asking a Minister why Ms. Banerjee had not visited the site of Saturday’s devastating fire.
 “All I said was should not have ‘Didi’ [Ms. Banerjee] come once …” Pratap Naskar told journalists, but was cut short by policemen when suggesting that it was the only conceivable reason why he was being held. This came only moments after he had posed the question to Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.
 The incident was reminiscent of the arrest of Shiladitya Chowdhury, a farmer who was whisked away by security personnel after being dubbed a “Maoist” by Ms. Banerjee in the course of her speech at a rally in Belpahari in Paschim Medinipur district on August 8, 2012. His arrest, because of asking Ms. Banerjee about the rise in prices of fertilizers, had evoked strong criticism from civil rights groups, activists and various political circles.
 Mr. Naskar may have said after being released later in the afternoon that he is a Trinamool Congress worker, but his detention was condemned by leaders of different political parties who described it as another instance of Ms. Banerjee’s “autocratic” rule and the “authoritarian ways” of her government.
 While Biman Bose, chairman of the Left Front committee and State Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said arresting one for asking a question went against the essence of democracy, Union Minister of State for Urban Development and senior Congress leader from West Bengal, Deepa Dasmunsi, wondered “what sort of legislation” decreed that such action be taken by the police.
State BJP chief Rahul Sinha said, “It reflects a political culture that does not tolerate dissent.” 
Who says India is a democracy? Welcome to totalitarian North Korea-style repression!