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PUCL, April 17, 2012

Anti-democratic conduct of West Bengal government

17 April 2012

Press Statement o

The recent developments in the state of West Bengal are very disturbing for all democratically thinking people in the country. The Chief Minister of the state is behaving more as a medieval despot than as the head of a government democratically elected. One is extremely surprised that such public conduct should come from a leader of the party that has rode to power accusing the previous regime of anti-democratic ways.

First the Chief Minister stooped to the level of accusing two unfortunate victims of rape of being part of a conspiracy to defame her government even before the police had investigated the case, and then retaliated by transferring the police officer who found the allegation of rape being true and nailed her lie. Secondly, instead of improving governance , she has banned the purchase of newspapers critical of her conduct and has gone to the extent of warning that she may dictate to the people what they should read or not read. Third is the outrageous act of arresting a professor of Jadhavpur university along with his friend for mailing to a few persons a very decent cartoon critical of her erratic behavior. Now we hear that the state CID is instructed to trail the IP addresses of all those who post material on social website Facebook critical of her ways, policies and conduct. It seems that Chief Minister has forgotten that we have a constitution and a functioning democracy accordingly. Add to this the brutal attack on protesting slum dwellers of Nonadanga in Kolkatta and arrest of Scientist Parthasarathi Roy for allegedly leading the slum dwellers’ protest. These acts of the state government constitute multiple democratic aberrations violating freedom of press, freedom of expression, academic freedom and

blatant misuse of state power and are totally unacceptable and deserve to be condemned in the strongest possible words. PUCL demands that the state government desist from strangulating the social media, arrested professor be forthwith released and democratic norms be restored in the state.

Pushkar Raj

Prabhakar Sinha

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014