Cartoonist receives death threat over his drawing ‘linking Modi’ with Gorakhpur tragedy
Guwahati, August 18: The death threat received by an Assam-based cartoonist--Nituparna Rajbongshi--for his work criticising the Narendra Modi government over the recent deaths of more than 70 children at a Gorakhpur hospital in Uttar Pradesh has once again brought to light the issue of attack on "freedom of speech" under the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre.
Rajbonghsi has approached the police for protection after he received threat calls over the cartoon he had posted on Facebook on the occasion of 71st Independence Day on Tuesday.
In the "controversial" cartoon on Gorakhpur tragedy, Modi was seen wearing a mask and getting oxygen from a cylinder marked as "corporate". In the same cartoon, a cow (about which the Centre has taken a very protective approach) is also seen breathing with the help of corporate-sponsored oxygen. Then in the cartoon, a corpse of a child is seen atop a stand of oxygen cylinder.
It is the portrayal of Modi in the cartoon which is stated to have angered the PM's supporters because of which the cartoonist has been lambasted and he received several threat calls.
"In the cartoon I tried to link Modi getting corporate funding with the recent Gorakhpur incident, rise in crime against women and farmer suicide," the cartoonist told Eclectic Northeast.
A Facebook friend of the cartoonist, Anindya Pranay Bharati, allegedly upset over the cartoon, threatened him by commenting, "You stupid Nituparna... Somebody shoot him dead...".
Rajbongshi, a resident of Sorbhog in lower Assam's Barpeta district, filed the complaint at a local police station.
"I filed a complaint against the person. I also mailed the complaint to the director-general of Assam police and the cyber crime branch. I have also come to know that Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti has filed a complaint on this incident at Dispur police station. After filing the complaint, additional deputy commissioner of Barpeta Pulak Patgiri called me and promised an investigation," Rajbongshi told The Telegraph.
Talking about the cartoon, Rajbongshi said it was a satire on the current regime.
"On the 71st Independence Day I had drawn the cartoon portraying the current situation of our country. Every day poor farmers commit suicide and various crimes take place in different parts of the country. No one is safe today. But the government tries to convince people that our country is developing day by day," Rajbongshi told The Telegraph.
"Through the cartoon I wanted to show that the government is working with the help of the corporate while the life of the people has become hell. I had drawn the oxygen mask to symbolise the Gorakhpur incident. The incident took place at a time the country is said to be becoming a superpower," he added.
Recently, more than 70 children died at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur, UP, allegedly due to lack of supply of oxygen. However, a central government-appointed probe panel in its report stated that the deaths were not due to lack of oxygen supply.
The parents of the dead children alleged that their loved ones were killed by the authorities by denying them timely supply of oxygen.