Several cartoons opposing the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 doing the rounds on the social media have drawn considerable backlash against its creator, Nituparna Rajbongshi.
Rajbongshi is a 38-year-old cartoonist from the Barpeta district in Assam.
A report published on Wednesday by Indian Express stated since December 31, 2018, former journalist Rajbongshi has shared seven of his cartoons, one of which depicts Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal as a “nude caricature” against the contentious Bill.
The Bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim minority communities from three neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It may be mentioned that protests continue to rock Assam against the Bill over the course of last year. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. An 11-hour shutdown was also observed across the Northeast stalling normal life.
According to the report, while several Twitter users have tagged the official handle of the Assam Police asking them to take action against Rajbongshi, an FIR was registered on Tuesday by the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing in Tinsukia district, against a Digboi-based youth for sharing the cartoon on Facebook.
The report quoted Dipak Tamuli, Officer-in-Charge of Tinsukia Police Station as saying: “We have interrogated the person concerned. However, we did not get sufficient evidence, so we have not taken any action yet.”
Investigation is on, he added. It has been reported that the FIR was lodged by Santanu Datta, president of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Tinsukia district.
The report quoted Dutta as saying: “The cartoon insults the CM of Assam. We felt really bad to see it. He is, after all, our chief minister. Now we have done our duty by reporting it — let the law take its course.”
The cartoon by Rajbongshi in question represents a nude caricature of Assam Chief Minister Sonowal with his arms outstretched. On the palm of one hand, Sonoal is shown holding a figure that represents a Hindu Bangladeshi. On the other hand, his other fist is clenched around a figure which depicts an Assamese.
“I drew this cartoon day before yesterday when a few Assamese boys staged a nude protest in front of the Parliament in New Delhi. Before, Sarbananda Sonowal was the face of the anti-immigration movement, he was the one who showed us the way. And today, because of him, we Assamese have been reduced to protesting naked,” the report quoted cartoonist Rajbongshi as saying.
Rajbongshi has been reportedly drawing cartoons since 1997 on various social-political issues.
“Yes, I am facing a lot of flak for this cartoon but I do not regret it one bit,” the report further quoted Rajbongshi, who shared over the phone from Sorbhog in Barpeta district.
Rajbongshi on Wednesday had received an email from Twitter notifying him that the social networking platform had labelled his media as ‘sensitive content’.
“The email also said that they will permanently adjust my account settings if I continue to upload potentially sensitive media,” rajbongshi said adding, “But I am not scared.”
Over the last two days many users have taken to Twitter to report cartoonist Rajbongshi’s account asking the authorities concerned to “take necessary action” and other users to “mass report him”. “Most — not all — of these negative comments are usually by people who are from or support the RSS or the BJP,” the report further quoted Rajbongshi as saying.