Early hopes and beliefs some may have harboured, that the descent would be halted once the new ruling order consolidated itself, have been belied.
The West Bengal state government order issued late in March, prescribing in minute detail the newspapers that public libraries could subscribe to, was an unwarranted intrusion into the right of the people to seek information from any source of their choosing. In what is clearly a retaliatory move against newspapers that have been critical of certain official decisions since the Mamata Banerjee government took office, the circular left out the two most widely circulated Bengali language dailies and all English newspapers. Curiously, three dailies whose owner-editors were recently elected to the Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress tickets, find mention in the list.
It soon became evident that this effort to rig the decks in favour of friendly newspapers was part of a wider intolerance of dissent. By any account, the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra – after he had been roughed up by political cadre of the ruling party – for circulating over the internet a subtle joke about Mamata Banerjee’s leadership style, must rank among the gravest violations of the free speech right by an elected government in recent times.
We are also shocked at the continuing incarceration of Partho Sarothi Ray, an internationally renowned molecular biologist and professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, after he took part in a peaceful demonstration against the eviction of slum dwellers in the eastern part of the city. Though he was arrested in the course of the April 8 protests, he is being charged with involvement in an incident of April 4, when he was not even present.
We support the mounting protest against such acts of brazen violation of basic democratic rights and call upon people all over the country to register their protest.
Prof. J.V.Naik Prof. Rajiv Gupta Prof. Amar Farooqui
Prof. Kesavan Veluthat Prof Mridula Mukherjee Prof. Aditya Mukherjee
Prof. Irfan Habib Prof. Prabhat Patnaik Prof. Arjun Dev
Prof. Indira Dev Prof. D. N. Jha Prof. C. P. Chandrasekhar
Prof. Shireen Moosvi Prof. Iqdar Alam Khan Prof. Ramesh Rawat
Prof. Wasi Hyder Prof. Saira I. Habib Prof. Atluri Murli
Dr. Archana Prasad Prof. Shakti Kak Prof. Javeed Alam
Sashi Kumar Madhu Prasad Fr Cedric Prakash
Rekha Awasthi Venkatesh Athreya Nasir Tyabji
Astad Deboo Saeed Mirza M. K. Raina
Madan Gopal Singh Ram Rahman Sohail Hashmi
Virendra Saini Teesta Setalvad Dr. P. K. Shukla
Prof. Anil Bhatti Prof. J. M. Parakh Dr. Sanjeev Kumar
Dr. Lata Singh Prof. Utsa Patnaik Prof. Jayati Ghosh
Asad Zaidi Manmohan Rajesh Joshi
Moloyshree Hashmi Sudhanva Deshpande Indira Chandrasekhar
Saroj Ganpath Girish Mishra Sudesh Sayal
Zoya Hasan Teesta Setalwad B. N. Uniyal
Ruchira Gupta Santosh Kumar Rai Shaleen Jain
Indira Mukherjee Anil Nauria Anil Sadgopal
Badri Raina Aniket Alam Sukumar Murlidharan
Ritu K Singh Jagdish Lal Dawar Daanish Raj
Shabnam Hashmi Rajendra Sharma Samvartha Salil
Rahul Verma N. K. Sharma K. Ashok Rao
M.M.P. Singh Vishnu Nagar Maya Krishna Rao
S. Kalidas Chanchal Chauhan Mihir Bhattacharya
Mukul Manglik Shesh Narain Singh Arjun Dev
Faiz Farooqui Vishva Mohan Jha Raja Jaikrishan
Shiraz Husain Nalini Taneja Maimoona
Rani Sawhney Kavita Shrivastava John Dayal
Prof. Shireen Moosvi