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Netizens Question Freedom of Speech in Mamata Banerjee's Bengal after BJP Activist Jailed for Meme

Netizens Question Freedom of Speech in Mamata Banerjee's Bengal after BJP Activist Jailed for Meme

7 years later, the situation hasn't changed much in Bengal. If anything, things have become all the more volatile with the ongoing Lok Sabha elections hanging like a dagger above everyone's heads.

In 2012, a professor from Kolkata learnt the hard way that sharing TMC or Mamata Banerjee cartoons on social media, even if they're meant to be taken lightly, can land you in hot soup. Or in the case of West Bengal, in jail.

Not only was professor Mahapatra arrested and booked under relevant sections, TMC "vigilantes" decided to take matters into their own hands and assaulted him while he was on his way back from work.

Seven years later, the situation hasn't changed much in Bengal. If anything, things have become all the more volatile with the ongoing Lok Sabha elections hanging like a dagger above everyone's heads.

In Mamata Banerjee's Bengal, you simply do not do anything that irks the Chief Minister. Because if you do, you might end up in jail. Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware of the whole Priyanka Sharma fiasco by now. Sharma, a BJYM worker in Howrah, was arrested for having shared a meme on Banerjee. The meme had a morphed image of Banerjee's face on Priyanka Chopra's look at the Met Gala a few days ago.

The image served no other purpose but mere humour, but clearly, Banerjee isn't too keen on criticism or satire or even harmless fun, for that matter. Ironically though, Mamata Banerjee has often positioned herself as a champion of free thinking and free speech. Of course, as long as it is in her favour.

Naturally, the event has sparked an outrage on social media with #ISupportPriyankaSharma being the number one trend on Twitter. This is what Twitterati have to say:

Bengal has always been the culture capital of the country; since time immemorial, the state and its citizens have been associated with literature, art and intelligentsia. A part of intelligent thinking involves dissent and criticism. One would expect that Didi, who has managed to effortlessly navigate through the complex and male-dominated political structure of Bengal, would be able to handle a little humour at her cost. But intolerance runs rampant in the state; remember the time Bhobishyoter Bhoot mysteriously disappeared from theatres simply because it questioned the ruling government in Bengal? Clearly, one has to be extremely careful expressing opinions on public platforms so as to not invite the wrath of the TMC.