Saturday, September 19, 2020
Home Opinions Abhijit Iyer Mitra : Real target or a pawn in a political tussle

Abhijit Iyer Mitra : Real target or a pawn in a political tussle

The debate on article 19(2) and 295A can go on while a private citizen is fighting it out against state’s might. One only hopes that our law makers also develop some sense of humour and appreciate a little sarcasm in public space. If freedom of speech is in peril, democracy is in peril.

In an unusual turn of events, noted defence analyst Abhijit Iyer Mitra, who had FIRs filed against him for hurting religious sentiments through his derogatory statements on Konark Sun temple and Odisha, was arrested by Odisha police on 23rd of October. Later in the night a local SDJM court denied him bail and has sent him to 14 days judicial custody.

Earlier last month, Abhijit Mitra had visited Odisha and flown over Chilika, Puri and Konark along with Baijayant Panda. On the next day, he went to Konark by road and made a sarcastic video which didn’t go well with many. After his return to Delhi, Odisha police seized the hangar and all the choppers belonging to Jay Panda’s company IMFA on flimsy charges.

On the same day, some BJD MLAs also protested inside assembly compound demanding the arrest of Jay Panda for flouting environmental rules. They also demanded the arrest of Abhijit Mitra for hurting Odia pride through his video on Konark.

- Advertisement -

Reacting to this Abhijit Iyer made some distasteful comments about Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as well as his secretary VK Pandian.

In one of his tweets, he went as far as comparing Naveen with Chandashok.

2 days later on 20th October, leader of the opposition, Congress MLA Shri Narasingha Mishra moved a privilege motion against Abhijit Iyer for his nasty remarks on state legislators, which was adopted by the house. Abhijit was asked to be present before the house.

On the same day, Odisha police reached Delhi to arrest Abhijit based on the FIR lodged against him in Sahid Nagar PS, Bhubaneswar and Konark PS. He got an interim bail and evaded arrest. However, the court asked him to depose before police at the said PS for further investigation and interrogation on 28th September.

Abhijit then applied for an anticipatory bail in SC and requested relief from personal appearance showing a threat to his life in Odisha, given the widespread protests against him. However, SC denied his request saying if he feels threatened, jail is the safest place for him.

He deposed before the House committee recently. He apologised before the committee and agreed to submit a written affidavit on Nov 2. As soon as he came out of state assembly, Sahid Nagar PS arrested him on charges of 294, 295A and IT act 67.

However, the FIR at Sahid Nagar PS was not related to his video on Konark. It was rather related to some tweets he made around 1 year ago where he sarcastically remarked about the origin of the name Odisha by Bengali explorers. 

He had also tweeted about Lord Jagannath originally belonging to Kolkata which was stolen by “evil Kalinga demon king”, of course, he made these remarks in jest as is evident from the tone.

These are the 2 tweets on which the case is filed on Abhijit Iyer in Sahid Nagar PS. The FIR copy, which is available with us, charges Abhijit of hurting religious sentiments on these grounds and not on his video which he made at Konark.

He was lodged in Jharpada jail in Bhubaneswar after his bail was denied by the SDJM court. But his problems are far from being over. Police have started searching his phone records, tweets and emails.

He is also named in another FIR filed at Konark PS over his video at the Konark temple for which Konark PS has already sought his remand. He has been produced at JFMC court in Konark for bail which was also denied. The remand application by Konark police is yet to be heard pending which he has now been remanded to Judicial custody in Nimapada jail, Puri district.

This is not the first time someone passed unsavoury remarks on Odisha on social media, sarcastically or otherwise. Many have done it in the past. A social media user, who goes by the name RoflGandhi_ puts out crass jokes on the poverty of Odisha, most insensitive thing one should joke about. You can either block, mute or ignore such guys and move on. But it’s not only ordinary Twitter users, someone as senior as retired SC judge, Markandey Katju, shared this joke on Odisha and after outrage on social media, he apologised. The matter ended there.

Nobody has filed cases on such incidents earlier. So what changed this time? Why such unprecedented state excess on a private citizen. What is also extraordinary is, 1-year-old tweets are being mined from archives and people are taking offence after a year. What is different in the case of Abhijit than the other cases?

One theory is, it is easy to bully a common citizen than a retired supreme court judge. With all the state’s might, you can bully a citizen into silence; however, power is not permanent. Someone at a position of power needs to considerate, magnanimous and unprejudiced, not a bully. But this is not a case of bullying only. This also reeks of political vendetta.

Is Abhijit Iyer just a medium here, while the real target is Jay Panda? Is Abhijit being made collateral damage in the political scuffle between BJD and Panda? Is BJD trying to send a message that Jay Panda is non-negotiable? One may also notice that Abhijit had posted some very offensive tweets on CM Naveen Patnaik and his secretary VK Pandian. He also insinuated at corruption by Pandian and sabotaging the probe. CM Naveen Patnaik is not known to take criticism lightly. Such unsubstantiated insinuations may have triggered unexpected state reaction.

At the end of the day, it was sarcasm. Whether in poor taste is subjective. Some may like the sarcasm, some may dislike, some may even take offence. But persecuting a private citizen in such a manner by the state machinery to this extent shows how freedom can be muzzled by those in power.

This also shows poorly across political spectrum where not a single politician cutting across party lines have come in his support. On the contrary, the other two leading parties in Odisha, BJP & Congress, have called for his arrest and strict punishment.

Whether the tweets were malicious or intended to defame a community is for the courts to decide. But denying him bail and 14 days judicial custody for mere sarcastic tweets hints of state excess on a private citizen.

Freedom of speech was never absolute in this country. The debate on article 19(2) and 295A can go on while a private citizen is fighting it out against state’s might. One only hopes that our lawmakers also develop some sense of humour and appreciate a little sarcasm in public space. If freedom of speech is in peril, democracy is in peril.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

HRCE Dept uses the ‘we are doing what Kings did’ argument, claims ‘secular’ state of Tamil Nadu entitled to control temples

HR&CE Dept has filed an affidavit at the Madras HC saying that though the state of Tamil Nadu is secular, it is entitled to control temples.

‘No right to question integrity of successors’: 26 former cops slam Julio Ribeiro for supporting people pushing ‘anti-India and communal narrative’

26 former police officers have written a letter slamming Julio Ribeiro for supporting people who push 'anti-India and communal narrative'.

In an ironical turn of events, BMC calls Kangana Ranaut’s plea an ‘abuse of law’ after hounding her for dissenting views

In an affidavit, BMC has also demanded that costs be imposed on Kangana Ranaut for making this plea and demanding Rs 2 crores damages

Delhi Police arrests journalist Rajeev Sharma for possessing classified defence documents, had written for Chinese mouthpiece GlobalTimes

Rajeev Sharma had written several columns for Chinese newspaper Global Times, the mouthpiece of Communist Party of China for the last several years.

Bloomberg Quint calls an economist an ‘infectious disease expert’ to peddle the theory that a high recovery rate is a ‘useless statistic’

The Quint earlier transformed an engineer to a doctor to prove that India is in the middle of community transmission stage

Julio Ribeiro and Open Letters, a love story better than Twilight: Here are some letters that the former IPS officer has signed

Former IPS Officer Julio Ribeiro has recently written to the Delhi Police complaining of their 'flawed investigation' into Delhi Riots.

Recently Popular

Nepal claims Indian cities Dehradun, Nainital under its ‘Greater Nepal’ campaign: Reports

The tension between Indian and its Himalayan neighbour Nepal is likely to mount again as Nepal continues to provoke India.

Here is why #BabyPenguin is trending on Twitter, and why Aaditya Thackeray is called so by some

Yuva Sena registered complaint against twitter user for calling Aaditya Thackeray "Baby Penguin" and Uddhav Thackeray "Aurangzeb"

“You are supposed to be unprejudiced,” investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala schools BJP-hater NDTV journalist Sreenivasan Jain

Without nothing left to say, Sreenivasan Jain laughed aloud and claimed, "I would love to think that I am unprejudiced."

From Ranbir Kapoor to Sanjay Dutt to Gauri Khan: The celebrities who flew ‘high’ and have battled drug addiction

Many Bollywood celebrities have confessed they had a drug problem at some point in their lives, some even went to jail for the same

Begusarai: Mohammad Maufiz used to rape his eldest minor daughter, sexually exploited other two minor daughters

Mohammad Maufiz in Begulsarai arrested after it was known that he is raping his eldest daughter for 5 years, molested two other daughters

Here is criticism of ‘a particular community’ as approved by the Honourable Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has not taken kindly to a show by Sudarshan News, criticising a 'particular community'

Sandalwood drug case: Bengaluru crime branch summons to former Congress corporator for questioning

Bengaluru Central Crime Branch (CCB) summons former Congress corporator RV Yuvraj in connection with the sandalwood drug case

An eyewitness tells media that Disha Salian was gang-raped by 4 men in the party held on the eve of her death: Here are...

An eyewitness has told News Nation that Disha Salian was gang-raped by 4 men in the party which she attended on the eve of her death on June 8.

HRCE Dept uses the ‘we are doing what Kings did’ argument, claims ‘secular’ state of Tamil Nadu entitled to control temples

HR&CE Dept has filed an affidavit at the Madras HC saying that though the state of Tamil Nadu is secular, it is entitled to control temples.

Temple takeover issue: Uttarakhand govt bans protests within 200 meters of Kedarnath, priests say they won’t budge

Since June, the priests at Kedarnath Dham are protesting against the formation of Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board.

‘No right to question integrity of successors’: 26 former cops slam Julio Ribeiro for supporting people pushing ‘anti-India and communal narrative’

26 former police officers have written a letter slamming Julio Ribeiro for supporting people who push 'anti-India and communal narrative'.

In an ironical turn of events, BMC calls Kangana Ranaut’s plea an ‘abuse of law’ after hounding her for dissenting views

In an affidavit, BMC has also demanded that costs be imposed on Kangana Ranaut for making this plea and demanding Rs 2 crores damages

West Bengal and Kerala come under scanner as NIA arrests 9 Al-Qaeda terrorists, were planning multiple attacks

The National Investigation Agency arrested eight terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda from Murshidabad in West Bengal and three from Ernakulam in Kerala.

Delhi Police arrests journalist Rajeev Sharma for possessing classified defence documents, had written for Chinese mouthpiece GlobalTimes

Rajeev Sharma had written several columns for Chinese newspaper Global Times, the mouthpiece of Communist Party of China for the last several years.

Bloomberg Quint calls an economist an ‘infectious disease expert’ to peddle the theory that a high recovery rate is a ‘useless statistic’

The Quint earlier transformed an engineer to a doctor to prove that India is in the middle of community transmission stage

Minister Anurag Thakur apologises after ruckus breaks out in Parliament over his comments on the Nehru-Gandhi family

Anurag Thakur had slammed the Congress party over the PM Relief Fund during a discussion on PM CARES Fund

Connect with us

243,917FansLike
453,209FollowersFollow
15,900SubscribersSubscribe