Home Editor's picks 42 days and counting. In jail for a joke: This is how Abhijit Iyer Mitra got caught in the mess

42 days and counting. In jail for a joke: This is how Abhijit Iyer Mitra got caught in the mess

Abhijit had 3 separate cases filed against him. A privilege motion in Odisha assembly, a case pertaining to his year-old tweet in one of the Bhubaneswar police station and another one filed in Konark Police Station on his video shot at Konark temple.

It’s the 42nd day today since Abhijit Iyer Mitra has been put in jail, his liberty suspended, his fate hangs in dark. All for cracking a joke, which was allegedly offensive. While a popular actor didn’t spend even 1 minute in jail after the court found him guilty and convicted him of culpable homicide, the state has ceased the freedom of a private person for mere allegedly offensive tweets posted more than a year ago, the charges for which are yet to be framed.

Read that slowly, register it, let it sink in and proceed.

Abhijit Iyer, a defence analyst with a popular think tank, visited Odisha last October with CM Naveen Patnaik’s bête noire Baijayant Panda. While on his Odisha visit, he posted a video to which some took offence. They are entitled to. The trouble didn’t start here.

- Advertisement - - Article resumes -

During his visit, he also flew with Baijayant Panda on his chopper, over Chilika lake. State administration, in its overzealous attempt to fix Baijayanta Panda, smelt a rat here. They tried to implicate him over flouting environment norms and flying too low over Chilika, which “supposedly” is a no-flying zone. It isn’t by the way. However, they knew the case has no legs to stand on. The ploy was extended to incriminate those associated with Baijayant Panda.

The narrative was: how Baijayant Panda is bringing his friends to Odisha who have no respect for the native culture and derides our heritage.

Abhijit’s tweets from past years were dug up and a case was filed on a tweet he posted on 16th November 2017 charging him of hurting sentiments. The entire ecosystem came together. Media channels hosted primetime shows. Editorials were written. Twitter was abuzz with how an outsider has hurt our cultural sentiments. A villain was born overnight.

Abhijit, who was hardly known beyond Twitter Lutyens Zone was now a hate figure in Odisha. Media played a perfect partner to government’s witch hunting and helped in every sense to hype up public sentiment against Abhijit. Once, the tide turned against him, no politician worth his salt came forward help him because “Odia pride” was at stake. Abhijit was deserted and left to fight his battle all alone.

By now, Abhijit was facing a barrage of abuse on Twitter. It is at this moment that he did a fatal mistake of approaching the Supreme Court for anticipatory bail and to recuse him from personal appearance in Odisha fearing threat to his life. The honourable CJI thought that in the prevailing circumstances, jail is the safest place for him and that he must spend some time in jail. His life will be secure there. In any case, his comments invite religious feeling. He can’t he be entitled to bail. These were the exact words of the honourable CJI. This sealed his fate.

Abhijit had 3 separate cases filed against him. A privilege motion in Odisha assembly, a case pertaining to his year-old tweet in one of the Bhubaneswar police station and another one filed in Konark Police Station on his video shot at Konark temple.

Before we proceed, a quick word on few legalities. After police take cognisance of a crime, they take custody of the accused and forward him to a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. In a non-bailable offence, bail isn’t a matter of right and hence not automatic, unlike bailable offence.

The prosecution may ask for police remand for custodial interrogation. In case where prosecution (Police) cannot defend its request to take remand or if they don’t ask for remand at all, the judge may grant bail or send the accused to judicial custody refusing bail. The reason for denying bail can be many. The reasons can be one among many but not limited to, where the accused is suspected to tamper with evidence, abscond, influence witnesses, not cooperate with the investigation or if his release his a threat to public order or morality.

Now let’s come back to Abhijit’s case. For the first case, i.e the privilege motion, he has already been pardoned by Odisha assembly after a written apology. For the third case, Konark police did ask for his police remand for 2 days which is now over. For the second case, Sahid Nagar police have not asked for his remand at all.

Abhijit has spent 42 days in jail because the judiciary has denied him bail. Let that be clear.

When the honourable Supreme Court opines that he should spend some time in jail as his offence isn’t entitled to a bail, in theory, it would be seen as a “shadow” contempt if an SDJM court grants him bail. So his chances of getting bail at the SDJM court were always faint. Another reason he spent so many days in jail was, Odisha HC was closed following a strike by lawyers for more than 3 months. Hence, he could not appeal against the SDJM verdict immediately. When he did, he got a date after weeks because of cases that have been piled up since these 3 months.

People ask, what were the options before administration?

What were the options before the judiciary?

What were the options before media, which was just presenting news as it happened in the state?

The administration could have chosen not to press charges at all since the charges were frivolous and the case seemed like a motivated propaganda. People do not get offended suddenly after a year. In any case, once the assembly pardoned him, the administration could have withdrawn sanction to prosecute under section 194 of CrPC, which they still can.

The judiciary could have been magnanimous in granting him bail as police didn’t ask for custodial interrogation and Abhijit is not known to tamper with evidence, abscond or influence a witness. His tweets didn’t incite any religious feelings or violence in 1 year, so it was unlikely it would have done so now.

And when it comes to media, they need to be a little pragmatic before sensationalising something. Your TRP can sound the death knell for someone. Be judicious in what you show but more importantly how you present it. Do not hype up public sentiment unnecessarily. You can report India losing to Australia in a Cricket match but “Match ka mujrim kaun” isn’t journalism.

Abhijit Iyer Mitra has complained of severe stomach pain and has been admitted to Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar since Saturday. After 42 days of being lodged in jail, his health has started to deteriorate. He is no hardened criminal. His ‘crime’, doesn’t warrant this insensitive treatment.

His bail hearing in the High Court is due this week. As a Twitter user puts it succinctly, “even if you consider what he did as punishable, I don’t, but feel free to differ, he has suffered enough. The lordships should just grant him bail now. Let an unwell man go home; we can continue debating FoE ad infinitum”.

Sharing is caring - Share This Post and Support:
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.


Most read articles recently

AltNews co-founder caught shielding Islamists following the Sri Lanka terror attacks

Altnews cofounder seems to have graduated from sharing fake news himself to shielding radical Islamists

Cambridge University confirms that Rahul Gandhi did his M.Phil using the name Raul Vinci

Cambridge University confirms that Rahul Gandhi did his MPhil using the name Raul Vinci

Two AAP MLAs lunged towards Kejriwal and one punched him such that his glasses fell off, claims Kapil Mishra

AAP MLAs reportedly beat up Kejriwal so much that he has injured his knees and could not walk properly

Air Vistara senior officials visit Gen GD Bakshi, apologise for deleting the tweet honouring him

Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, and Deepa Chadha, Senior Vice President – Human Resources & Corporate Affairs or Air Vistara visited Maj. Gen. Bakshi and tendered an official apology

Shekhar Gupta says ‘latest’ CVoter survey predicts BJP getting 220 in 2019 elections, Yashwant Deshmukh calls it fake news

Yashwant Deshmukh of CVoter, putting the record straight said that CVoter has respected the Election Commission embargo and has not released any vote or seat numbers once the election process started.

Rahul Gandhi talks while PM Modi delivers the Make In India promise: Apple to shift mass production of iPhones from China to India

While Bengaluru unit of Apple was already manufacturing older models, the new facility will manufacture newer phones

Watch: Digvijay Singh spreads the Rs. 15 lakh lie at a public rally, boy does a ‘surgical strike’ on him

Congress leader Digvijay Singh, while addressing a public rally and attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tauntingly asked the people whether they received the amount of Rs 15 lakh in their accounts.
Web of dubious transactions featuring 'RG', 'SG', 'AP' and 'DKS': Tale of Kempareddy Govindaraj, Parliamentary Secretary to Siddaramaiah and the seized diary

Web of dubious transactions featuring ‘RG’, ‘SG’, ‘AP’ and ‘DKS’: Tale of K Govindaraj, Parliamentary Secretary to Siddaramaiah and the seized diary

In March 2016, the IT Department conducted raids on K. Govindaraj, Parliamentary Secretary to the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah and a member of the Legislative Council of the state.

‘Liberals’ addressing Yogi Adityanath by his birth name is a reflection of their deep seated Hinduphobia

The elevation of Yogi Adityanath to the seat of Chief Minister of India's most populous state ruffled many feathers and it's hardly surprising that they are throwing everything at him in the desperate hope that something will stick.

Latest articles

Connect with us

157,071FansLike
129,958FollowersFollow
54,506SubscribersSubscribe

Don't miss these

Sharing is caring - Share This Post and Support: