Security analyst and columnist Abhijit Iyer-Mitra was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged derogatory remarks against the Sun Temple and Odisha culture. The Commissionerate Police arrested Abhijit after hours of interrogation at an undisclosed location in Bhubaneswar. Police Commissioner Satyajit Mohanty said Abhijit was arrested in connection with a criminal case registered against him at Saheed Nagar Police Station on September 20.
He has been booked under IP63C Sections 294, 295A, 153A, 500, 506 and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act. He also appeared before a House Committee of Odisha Assembly on Tuesday and tendered an unconditional apology for his derogatory remarks on legislators. The House panel, headed by leader of opposition Narasingh Mishra, asked Abhijit to re-appear on November 2 and submit an affidavit.
"Abhijit Iyer-Mitra admitted to the charges levelled against him and offered an unconditional apology for his 'stupidity'. He has been directed to depose before the Committee and submit an affidavit in this regard," said Mishra. "After examining his affidavit, the panel will decide whether to accept his apology or not. Accordingly, the Committee will then recommend to the House to take action against him, if necessary," he said. Abhijit was questioned about the alleged breach of privilege.
Many have condemned his arrest, terming it "a zone where freedom is in danger, and an "Orwellian nightmare".
Dear Prime Minister @narendramodi, quite admirable that you are active on social media. So I am sure you are aware that in India one can get arrested, like my friend @Iyervval, for a tweet on the origin of Rasagola. That's the democracy & freedom we Indians enjoy under your govt. https://t.co/Hg9kd3pAAe— Aarti Tikoo Singh (@AartiTikoo) October 24, 2018
We're slipping into a zone where #freedom is in danger. It's outrageous that Abhijit Iyer-Mitra @Iyervval has been arrested by #Odisha Police on risible charges and denied bail. Please read and circulate my protest and appeal. Fight for your, his and everybody's liberty. #India pic.twitter.com/gbuHebzI8g— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) October 24, 2018
Absurd, vindictive, to jail @iyervval for 14 days over a rosogolla-origin tweet. He's a shock-jock, but trawling through his year-old tweets to fuel specious outrage charges is an illustration of how much is wrong with India's FoE laws.https://t.co/TQZTh05PDW— Nilanjana Roy (@nilanjanaroy) October 24, 2018
This nonsense with @Iyervval has got to stop. His comments are often bigoted and silly and he knows it but mouthing off shouldn't be cause for arrest. Fighting over the origins of rasagola? How about over the success or otherwise of #MakeInIndia instead?https://t.co/EP4kxnYxmE— Jabin T Jacob 鄭嘉賓 (@jabinjacobt) October 25, 2018
He had earlier been summoned to appear before the panel on October 11, which he had skipped. He was summoned again to appear on October 23.
Odisha Assembly Speaker Pradip Amat had on September 20 constituted a House Committee to probe the journalist's alleged derogatory remarks against the state and its lawmakers.
Abhijit had on September 16 posted a video on Twitter criticising the Konark temple. Later, he went on to make the alleged derogatory remarks against Odisha and its culture. Two FIRs were registered against him at Konark and Saheed Nagar police stations for his remarks.
Last month, the Odisha Police arrested the columnist in New Delhi for his anti-Odisha comments. However, he was given conditional bail by a local court in Delhi. Later, the Supreme Court rejected his bail plea saying his comments 'incited religious sentiments'.
With IANS inputs