Perturbed over the arrest of an eminent scientist who opposed eviction of slum dwellers in Kolkata, scientists have written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decrying West Bengal government's action and sought his immediate intervention.

A number of scientists from across the country and some parts of the world have written to Mr. Singh voicing concern on the “crackdown on human rights activists and citizens who are attempting to raise issues of concern.”

They have signed a letter that has condemned the police action against Ambikesh Mahapatra, Jadavpur University chemistry professor, and Partho Sarothi Ray, a molecular biologist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohanpur.

While Mr. Mahapatra was arrested for circulating a cartoon depicting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Ray was among those taken into custody for protesting against the eviction of slum dwellers in Nonadanga area of East Kolkata.

“There also seems to be a clear message to others not to raise voices of dissent. This has implications for not only this series of events in Kolkata but also for democracy,” said the letter signed by activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Massachussetts Institute of Technology professors Noam Chomsky, Mrigangka Sur, Abha Sur, scientists of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and Indian Institutes of Technology.

Mr. Ray is an established researcher in molecular biology whose findings have been published in world class journals, the letter said.

He is also a faculty of IISER Kolkata, one of the most select institutions of higher learning in India, it said.— PTI