A BJP activist was arrested on Friday in West Bengal for allegedly sharing a morphed photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on social media.
The activist, Priyanka Sharma, is accused of sharing on her Facebook timeline a photo in which Mamata Banerjee’s face has been photoshopped on the form of actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas at the MET Gala in New York.
She was picked up by the police from her home. She has been sent to two weeks’ judicial custody.
A complaint filed at Dasnagar Police station against Priyanka Sharma, a BJP Yuva Morcha leader, accuses her of “violating community guidelines”, an official of Howrah City police’s Cyber Cell is quoted as telling news agency IANS. The complaint was reportedly filed by a Trinamool leader, Bibhas Hazra.
“This is a malicious effort to define our beloved CM who is working tirelessly for our state. We have lodged a police complaint and want stern action to be initiated. She has not just insulted our CM, but also the culture of Bengal,” Mr Hazra reportedly complained.
The charges cited on the complaint include “defamation and offensive messages”.
Priyanka Chopra chose a vibrant, edgy look with an unusual hairdo in her interpretation of the theme for the annual fundraiser this year was “Camp: Notes on Fashion”.
The arrest has provoked anger and strong protests, not just by the BJP but also by other social media users.
The BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma called it an “emergency-like situation” in Bengal. “Appalled at an Emergency-like situation in WB. Freedom of expression is severely curbed. Priyanka Sharma, executive member of @bjym4howrah has been sent to 14-day police custody for posting a Met Gala-themed meme on @MamataOfficial,” Mr Sarma tweeted. BJP workers also protested outside the police station where Priyanka Sharma was taken.
The hashtag #ISupportPriyankaSharma also trended on Twitter.
In 2012, Ambikesh Mahapatra, a chemistry professor at Jadavpur University, was arrested for circulating an email with a caricature of Mamata Banerjee.