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Scientist freed on bail, says WB government targetting intellectuals

Kolkata: Scientist Dr Partho Sarothi Ray, who was released on bail on Wednesday after spending 10 days in jail for being part of a protest demanding rehabilitation for slum dwellers, said his arrest proved that it was "dark days for the state".

"I think all intellectuals who are ready to speak their mind are being targetted in some way or the other. The signs are ominous," he said.

The professor was released on bail today. Image courtest IISER Kolkata

A molecular biologist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Sarothi was arrested on 8 April while participating in a peaceful demonstration against the eviction of slum dwellers of Nonadanga area of East Kolkata.

"I went and stood there on my own since it was my responsbility to stand with people who had lost their homes," he said, denying that he had joined the protest because of any political motivations.

Ray was subsequently accused of participating in a case of rioting which took place on 4 April, despite not being present at the rally only to intimidate him. "I have been implicated in a false case with the intention of discrediting me", he said.

When asked if he was seeking an apology from the government, Ray said,"I would leave it to the good sense of the powers that be to decide that."

He also vowed to continue supporting the cause of the slumdwellers who had lost their homes and were seeking rehabilitation. The scientist, who said he had turned down two jobs in the US to take a teaching job in India, said he was treated with courtesy by the police and by his fellow inmates in jail.

Ray also criticised the government for its actions against intellectuals in the state and failing in its claims of bringing about a transformation in the state.

"It (Trinamool Congress government) is not doing what it promised when it came to power and is now acting in an overbearing manner. You can only call it transformation when there are substantial changes not just when one party replaces another," he said.

Earlier, National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy and Noam Chomsky were among 55 academicians who wrote to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention in the case of Ray and Jadavpur professor Ambikash Mahapatra. They had sought that all criminal charges against the duo be withdrawn.

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