Hours after West Bengal Congress spokesperson Kaustav Bagchi was arrested on Saturday for allegedly making derogatory comments against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a city court granted him bail.
Mr. Bagchi was arrested in the early hours of Saturday on the basis of a complaint made by a person at Burtolla Police station at about 10.30 pm on Friday. The Congress leader who is also an advocate has been booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code including 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 354 (Outraging modesty of a woman) 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) among other sections.
The Court granted bail to Mr. Bagchi on a personal bond of ₹1000 and on the condition that he will present himself before the investigating officer once every week. The arrest of the Congress leader triggered protests by Congress workers who held demonstrations inside the Court premises. Congress supporters also hit the streets against the arrest. Mr. Bagchi had said that police personnel had reached his house at 3 am in the morning.
“The police will have to understand that they are answerable to the law and not to the Chief Minister,” Senior Advocate and CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said. Mr Bhattacharya and a number of lawyers argued for the Congress leader’s bail before the court. All the politicalparties in the Opposition had criticised the arrest of the Congress leader and raised questions on the “hyperactive” police behavior including the veracity of the charges against Mr. Bagchi. Some leaders from Trinamool including party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh expressed opinions against the arrest.
The arrest comes two day after the Congress party won the Sagardighi by poll defeating the Trinamool Congress nominee. While commenting on the by polls Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made personal comments on State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Responding to the remarks Mr. Bagchi during a press conference referred to a book on the Chief Minister and asked people to read it.
This is not the first time that someone has been arrested for objectionable remarks directed against the Chief Minister. Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was arrested in April 2012 for forwarding a collage on Chief Minister and BJP youth leader Priyanka Sharma was arrested in May 2019 for a meme on Ms. Banerjee.
During the day, Indian Secular Front ( ISF) MLA Naushad Siddique was released from a correctional home after spending 42 days behind bars. The MLA was granted bail on March 2. Mr. Siddique who was arrested in connection with violence in Kolkata on January 21 and after his release he expressed his support to Kaustav Bagchi.