Abhijit Iyer-Mitra not booked for comments on rosogollas, but for vulgar statement about Odiya culture, says Odisha IGP
Journalist Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, in the midst of controversy over his remarks on Odisha's Konark Sun Temple, was arrested on Tuesday moments after he tendered an unconditional apology before a House Committee of the state Assembly.
Following reports saying that journalist Abhijeet Iyer-Mitra has been arrested for his 'anti-Odisha' comments on the origin of rosogollas, Arun Kumar Bothra, IG (crime branch) Odisha issued a clarification stating that the said comment had nothing to do with the journalist's arrest. "I want to clarify that his arrest or legal action against him has nothing to do with rosogollas or his previous comments on rosogollas," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Bothra said that Iyer-Mitra was arrested on the basis of two FIRs registered against him for his "derogatory and very very objectionable and vulgar comments about Odiya culture, people of Odisha and Lord Jagannath."
The IGP added that Mitra's case seems to have gathered public attention after his name cropped up in another case, related to flying a chopper over an eco-sensitive zone.
"There was a case against Baijayant Panda for flying a helicopter in Chilika area. What I understand is that once that case was registered, people came to know about Mitra. They started searching for him on the internet and found these kind of comments. These cases are different," Bothra said.
The Biju Janata dal leader, along with the pilot of the chopper, Abhijit Iyer Mitra and Aarti Tikoo, who allegedly flew with him over the Chilika Lake were booked for alleged unauthorised flying of a chopper at a "dangerous level" on 15 September,
Iyer-Mitra, in the midst of controversy over his remarks on Odisha's Konark Sun Temple, was arrested on 20 September, moments after he tendered an unconditional apology before a House Committee of the state Assembly.
He was arrested as soon as he stepped out of the Assembly, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of people and making derogatory remarks against the state, the Konark temple and Lord Jagannath, PTI reported. The Commissionerate Police arrested Iyer-Mitra after hours of interrogation at an undisclosed location in Bhubaneswar.
Iyer-Mitra was charged under various sections of the IPC on the basis of an FIR filed at the Saheed Nagar police station in Bhubaneswar, ACP (Zone-5) Kishore Mund said. A complaint was lodged against Iyer-Mitra by Manoranjan Mohanty on 20 September for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of the people of Odisha, PTI said.
However, The Hindu claimed that the arrest was in relation to another case, relating to Iyer-Mitra's controversial comments about the origin of Rasagola. Iyer-Mitra’s counsel Nikhil Mehra told the newspaper that the journalist was arrested in a case that related to a conversation on Twitter involving several people about the origin of Rasagola and Odisha more than a year ago.
Odisha Assembly Speaker PK Amat had, on 20 September, set up the committee to probe the alleged derogatory remarks made by Mitra.
The committee had earlier summoned Iyer-Mitra to appear before it on 11 October, he failed to turn up. A notice was then sent to him for appearance before the committee on 23 October.
Iyer-Mitra courted controversy over a video he posted in September on his Twitter handle where he "criticised Odisha, its people, Lord Jagannath, Konark temple and also Odisha lawmakers."
With inputs from agencies
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