The Curious Case of a Suspension

WEST BENGAL’S REGISTRAR OF PUBLICATIONS, BISHMOY ROY, MAY HAVE FALLEN PREY TO MAMATA BANERJEE’S PAST ANGER FOR CLEARING THREE BOOKS CRITICAL OF HER.

by Bappaditya Paul

West Bengal’s Registrar of Publications, Mr Bishmoy Roy, who was suspended from service on Tuesday (17 December 2013) for “violation of service rules”, had in 2012 cleared three books that were extremely critical of Ms Mamata Banerjee and her government.

Mamata Banerjee

Of them, Mamata Bandopadhyay Ke Jemon Dekhechi (Mamata Banerjee As I have Known Her), penned by expelled Trinamul Congress MLA and former IAS officer Dipak Kumar Ghosh,  released in June and Musalmander Unnatir Janya Ki Karte Hobe (What Should Muslims Do for Their Betterment) and Musalmander Karaniyo (What Should Muslims Do), written by IPS officer Nazrul Islam, released in July and August 2012 , respectively. Mr Ghosh’s book was published by Kolkata Prakashani; Mr Islam’s books were published by Mitra and Ghosh Publishers.

Mr Roy, who joined as the Registrar of Publications in 2004 through the Public Service Commission, was responsible for cataloging books published from West Bengal and report to the state government if there was anything objectionable in a publication. But even as Miss Banerjee and her government were red-faced at the alleged “indecent, inciting and derogatory” contents of the books, the Registrar of Publications wing led by Mr Roy found nothing wrong in the book.

Musalmander Karaniyo cover“The state government had banned Musalmander Karaniyo on the pretext that it will incite communal disharmony. But following a directive from the state home department, the Registrar of Publications had in the month of October 2012 prepared an internal report about the book. Mr Roy cleared the book stating that he found nothing inciting in the book and that the arguments in it were logical,” recalled a senior Home Department official. “Later, someone on behalf of Mr Islam got hold of a copy of the report under the Right to Information Act and produced it before a court, which compelled the government to lift the ban.”

Writers' Buildings in KolkataA section of state government officials suggest that since then the Chief Minister has been peeved with the Registrar of Publications and the recent episode, wherein the latter came out in the media defending insecticide sprayer Mr Jyotirmoy Nandi ~ whom the police had arrested on charges of trying to set ablaze the Writers’ Buildings ~ only acted as an add-on.
“It seems he (Mr Roy) has fallen prey to the grudge that the government has been nurturing for sometime now,” said an official.

Jyotirmoy Nandi with his mother Chitra Nandi on being released from police custody on 06 December 2013.
Jyotirmoy Nandi with his mother Chitra Nandi on being released from police custody on 06 December 2013.

The insecticide sprayer, Mr Nandi, had been arrested on 30 November, a day after kerosene was found spread on the fifth floor office of the Registrar of Publications wing at Writers’ Buildings, which was shifted from Bhavani Bhawan in June. Police charged him of hatching a conspiracy to burn down the heritage building, a suspicion that was first raised in a Press conference by none other than the state home secretary, Mr Basudev Banerjee.

West Bengal Home Secretary Basudev Banerjee
West Bengal Home Secretary Basudev Banerjee

But both the police and the government were later left hugely embarrassed after the Registrar of Publications told the media that he had hired Mr Nandi on contract to spray insecticide on books and on 29 November, the latter had only carried out the job that he was doing once every month since 2004.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 20 December 2013 under a different headline.)

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