Indian authorities drop defamation charges laid for circulating cartoon
In a telephone interview conducted earlier today, Ambikesh thanked IFEX, CRNI and the other human rights organizations and cartoon organizations that co-signed the CRNI initiated IFEX Joint Action Protest Letter of September 26th. Speaking with Executive Director Robert Russell, Mahapatra said, "The charges seem to have been vacated as a result of your letter and your actions." We thank Professor Mahapatra while congratulating his legal team and all Indians who rallied for him, for Mr. Sengupta, and, the free speech rights of all Indians.
Again, Mahapatra and Sengupta are still battling to get the remaining charge dismissed. Their next court appearance is scheduled for February 28, 2013. The West Bengal Police in the meantime have ignored the August 13, 2012 judgment of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission ruling in favor of the two men. The police have neither compensated these innocent gentlemen nor reprimanded the police who improperly detained them. Instead the police have tried to contact as many members of the New Garia Housing Development Society as possible to find someone, anyone, who was offended by the very tame cartoon forwarded by Professor Mahapatra. To quote The Indian Express, "the calls to the residents were apparently a desperate attempt to make a case out of the cartoon case." The calls by the police were also apparently a counterproductive attempt to build a case. All the individuals contacted by the police who spoke to The Indian Express said they were not offended by the very tame collage cartoon.
Cartoonists Rights Network International