Kolkata, Oct 20 (IANS) Opposition parties in West Bengal have rallied around Congress spokesman Sanmoy Bandopadhyay, who has been arrested on charges including forgery, defamation and intent to provoke breach of the peace, after criticising Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the ruling Trninamool Congress (TMC) through video posts on the social media.
According to Bandopadhyay’s elder brother Tanmay Bandopadhyay, the journalist-turned-politician was dragged away from a house close to his residence in Agarpara of the 24 Parganas North district on Thursday evening by 20-30 “musclemen” who “did not seem like the police”.
The police confirmed his arrest following registration of a cyber crime case in Purulia against him. Bandopadhyay was produced in a Purulia court, which remanded him to two-day police custody.
“Around 7 p.m. on Thursday, a gang of 20-30 musclemen barged in and tried to take him away. He sought time to dress up. But they dragged him away,” said Tanmoy.
Bandopadhyay had since June been posting daily videos on his YouTube channel ‘Banglar Barta’, sharply critical of Banerjee, other Ministers, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee and senior bureaucrats and police officers. The channel had become popular, and according to Bandopadhyay, got over 1 crore hits.
The arrest has raised a political storm in the state, with the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the coming out against the administration for “throttling the democratic space”.
The Congress workers hit the streets on Friday when they demonstrated at the Khardah police station. On Saturday, Congress workers put up road blocks in central Kolkata’s Moulali. The party has also called a statewide one-hour road blockade, starting 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The CPI-M cadres also joined the Congress demonstration at the Khardah police station.
On Saturday, BJP leaders J.P. Mahumdar and Agnmitra Pal called on Bandopadhyay’s wife and promised all help. “We will extend all help. We have decided to rise above politics and taken a humane stand,” said Pal.
But TMC leader Nirmal Ghosh attacked Bandopadhyay for not having any “democratic decency”.