She is no celebrity. But Sutapa Maity has been in the news for the past 48 hours since she was arrested for “inciting mobs to riot” in Telinipara of District Hooghly in West Bengal. Whoever can read Bangla — those who can’t may use any translation software, the quality of which is constantly improving — would wonder whether these posts amount to flaring up communal tensions or just a perspective, which the government, media and/or you may or may not share.
In a post, Sutapa writes,
The above means “if Islam and Muslim are so great, why do Muslims have to establish their credentials across the world by asserting, ‘I am Muslim but I am not a terrorist?'”
In another post, Sutapa writes,
The passage reads like crime reporting. Sutapa says in this passage, “The Supreme Court had in 2013 fined Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, one of the leading faces of the West Bengal government’s fight against coronavirus, and two others, a fine of Rs 11.5 crore for medical negligence and revoked their licenses.”
The Facebook writer writes further about an “Anuradha Saha, an expatriate Indian psychologist living in the US, the negligence in whose treatment by Dr Mukherjee resulted in her death.”
Sutapa goes on to tell in the passage above: “Anuradha Saha’s husband Kunal Saha is a doctor by profession. This Dr Saha sued Dr Mukherjee in 1996. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled against Dr Mukherjee.”
The Facebook user finally asks, “What would be the fate of your and my life if an inferior and incompetent person like this is made the head of the state’s medical department?”
If the allegation above is false, Dr Mukherjee has the option to drag Sutapa Maity to court. But how does this post flare up communal passions?
In yet another post, Sutapa writes,
Translation: “Police officer Humayun Kabir, behind the veil of his uniform, is morphing my images with the help of a Muslim gang and promoting obscenity. Shame!” If this is true, it’s the police officer that must be suspended and an inquiry instituted against him. If not, the post still in no way can cause a riot.
But the police say Sutapa has 17 other ‘accomplices’ who are involved in “similar” acts of inciting violence. If their posts are indeed similar, readers may decide whether such messages amount to instigating people to riot. The police also say the woman had made “kuruchikor montobyo” (indecent remarks) against their officer Humayun Kabir.
Further scrolling down her Facebook timeline gives an idea Sutapa has strong anti-TMC views and her opinion about Muslims is not charitable, but there is no post that can be said to be inciting mobs for rioting. At the same time, many Muslim users of the medium can be seen hounding her in a pack. She has shared a few screenshots demonstrating the behavioural pattern of Muslims in her network.
A search in Facebook also yielded the fact that the police initiated action against the Hindu woman and the behest of a group of Muslims. The complaint, with officer Humayun Kabir tagged, may be seen in the attached screenshot.
In the complaint, Sabana Parvin, tagging Sabir Ahmed and Humayun Kabir, writes, “This woman is trying to incite riots in Bengal. She is carrying out a misinformation campaign. She is making indecent remarks against the honourable chief minister of Bengal. I request the administration to take prompt legal action against her (Sutapa Maity). Sonar Bangla cannot afford indulgence with their ilk.”
Last Sunday, a Muslim mob hurled crude bombs in Telinipara of Bhadreshwar in District Hooghly of West Bengal, unhappy with the state government’s declaration of their ghetto as a containment zone following a high prevalence of coronavirus infection in the neighbourhood.
Muslims in the area questioned, according to local sources, why the police had barricaded their areas while the Hindu areas had not been cordoned off — much as the situation in the Hindu localities did not merit declaring them as hotspots.
The situation in Telinipara now is said to be tense but “under control”. DC Subroto Ganguly from the Chandannagar Commissionerate said on 15 May that more than 100 people had been arrested in connection with the riot. He said the police and RAF were carrying out “route marches” in the area.