Congress leader Sanmoy Banerjee, who also runs a popular YouTube channel from Kolkata, has been arrested and sent to police custody for two days in connection with a cybercrime complaint filed in Purulia, about 250 kilometres away from his home.
A former Congress councilor and former employee in the sales department of a Bengali newspaper house, Mr Banerjee, 58, now runs a YouTube channel, Banglar Barta, airing political commentary mostly critical of the Mamata Banerjee government.
In the first three months of the YouTube channel, it has grown to 83,000 subscribers and has accumulated over one crore views.
According to members of his family who were present in the Purulia court today, the public prosecutor clearly stated in court that Mr Banerjee was arrested for comments against the chief minister and her nephew which were defamatory.
The complainant against Mr Banerjee is reportedly a Trinamool Youth Congress leader based in Purulia. He filed his complaint in September, accusing Mr Banerjee of forgery, forgery with the purpose of harming the reputation, defamation and statements leading to public mischief. Mr Banerjee was charged under Section 66 of the IT Act.
Mr Banerjee's family has protested against the way he was arrested, equating it to kidnapping.
He was allegedly dragged out of his sister's house around 7.30 pm on Thursday by a group of about 30 men in civilian clothes. They left without telling anyone where they were taking Mr Banerjee or why.
"If my brother has made defamatory comments, he will have to pay for it. But his arrest was simply hooliganism," said Mr Banerjee's older brother Tanmoy Banerjee.
"The local Khardah police station said they had no idea where Sanmoy was and we should contact the Purulia police station. We later learnt Sanmoy was kept at the Khardah police station overnight, tortured and driven to Purulia this morning for court appearance," he said.
The family claimed the Khardah police refused to accept a complaint by Sanmoy Banerjee's cousin Indrani Mukherjee from whose house he was arrested. Indrani and her 62-year-old mother were allegedly manhandled by the police in civilian clothes.
"We were expecting something like this because on September 29 police had come looking for Sanmoy but Sanmoy was not home at that time and they left," Tanmoy Banerjee added.
Mr Banerjee's arrest triggered angry protests near his home by Congress workers who have threatened statewide protests if he is not immediately released.
Police sources say the chief minister was not mentioned in the complaint. However, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, attacked Mamata Banerjee, saying, "Didi, such ugly attacks will not weaken our resolve. I condemn such a shameful act of political violence. I urge Bengal Congress workers to come out on the street in protest against the kidnap of Sanmoy Babu."