While most politicians, cutting across political lines, are trying to take a ‘balanced’ view on controversy ridden film Padmavati, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today tweeted in support of the movie raking ’emergency’:
The #Padmavati controversy is not only unfortunate but also a calculated plan of a political party to destroy the freedom to express ourselves. We condemn this super emergency. All in the film industry must come together and protest in one voice
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 20, 2017
She said that the film controversy is a ‘calculated plan of a political party’ to ‘destroy the freedom to express ourselves’. Coming from her it was ‘brave’ not because even Congress leaders such as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took a rather anti-Padmavati movie stand, but because Mamata and freedom of speech don’t go hand in hand.
Brace yourself as we list down the non-exhaustive list of the times Mamata Banerjee and her government was not happy with others exercising their right of freedom of expression.
We would like to take this opportunity to walk Mamata down her memory lane when she and her West Bengal government had clamped down on “Teen Kanya” a Bengali film based on the controversial Park Street rape incident and her close aide had refused certificate to another Bengali film “Kangal Malsat” which was critical of the incumbent Mamata government.
Mamata forgot to tweet when a revising committee of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had refused to clear Kangal Malsat for screening, after claiming it “insulted” Mamata Banerjee. The censor had cited ‘controversial’ portrayal of facts surrounding the Singur movement and her swearing in ceremony.
Following protests led by Mamata Banerjee, the Tata Motors plant in Singur had to be shifted to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008. In the film, a character is shown watching Mamata’s 2011 swearing in ceremony with disdain which did not go down too well with Banerjee. Similarly, Teen Kanya’s screening was stopped by Mamata since it resembled the Park Street rape case of 2012.
However, Didi’s brush with free speech and freedom of expression goes beyond movies. That is why as soon as she tweeted her support for the film, Twitter users showed her the mirror exposing her hypocrisy:
— हेमेंद्र सिंह (@hsrofficial03) November 20, 2017
As per reports, one Arunachal Dutta Choudhary, an employee of West Bengal Health Service was suspended over a Facebook post, which described the adverse condition in his hospital which has been facing a wave of dengue patients over the past few weeks. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holds the health portfolio in the state government.
These are not the only times Mamata has tried to suppress dissenting voice, exposing her hypocrisy. Mamata had also banned books by 1981 batch IPS officer Nazrul Islam which were critical of Mamata government not delivering what was promised. It has been almost 4 months since West Bengal government banned ABN News Network, the only Nepali language satellite channel in India, alleging that telecasting footage of Darjeeling unrest fanned hatred in the hills.
— Dipendra Dipzo Khati (@DipendraDipzo) November 20, 2017
The footage was part of a news report that covered the 21st July pro-Gorkhaland khukhri-rally. Khukhri is a traditional Nepali knife and one of the symbols used by protestors demanding a separate state since early this June.
Earlier, the state police had preferred arresting a minor for an allegedly provocative post on Facebook to taking action against rioters inuldge in arson. Last year, an FIR was filed against Zee News reporters for covering Dhulagarh riots. Things were taken to an absurd level in July when a photograph of someone praying in a temple posted on Twitter was allegedly seen as a threat to peace in Bengal. Professor Mahapatra of Jadavpur University, in Kolkata was arrested for allegedly spreading anti-Mamata cartoons in 2012. It seems being critical of the government is not considered freedom of expression by Mamata Banerjee, the patron saint of hypocrisy.
The list of bans is long but perhaps the most absurd was the incident where Mamata’s police arrested a businessman for ranting about traffic conditions on Facebook and not apologizing about it.
All hail free speech fighter Didi.