Seven people were booked under sedition charges on Tuesday night for allegedly “raising provocative slogans” and “hurting religious sentiments” during a protest in Dhanbad against the CAA, NRC and NPR. However, police on Wednesday said there was no “element of sedition” and they are in the process of filing a petition in court to drop the sedition charge.
According to the initial FIR on Tuesday, the protest was held without any information, leading to a traffic snarl and inconvenience to commuters in Dhanbad. According to the FIR, more than 1,000 people marched through Wasseypur to Randhir Verma Chowk while allegedly raising provocative remarks against the government and “hurting religious sentiments”.
The FIR was filed under IPC sections 143, 145, 149, 186, 188, 290, 291, 336, 153A, 153B and 124A against seven named and 3,000 unidentified persons on a complaint by Dhanbad Circle Officer Prashant Kumar Layak.
However, Dhanbad City SP wrote to Dhanbad police SHO Santosh Kumar on Wednesday evening stating that there was no “logic” in invoking sedition. “It seems that without viewing the complaint in depth, the case was registered. It is a matter of deep negligence, arbitrariness and a reflection of an inept police officer. Submit a clarification in three days or else face disciplinary action,” the letter stated.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Sukhdev Singh said, “The sedition charge is being removed.”
DGP KN Choubey said, “There was no merit in invoking sedition charge and the range DIG is supervising the case.”
Dhanbad SSP Kaushal Kishore said that the SHO will be sent a showcause notice. “Within 24 hours of an FIR being registered, it has to be sent to the court. In the process, one can file a petition for addition or removal of any particular charge and the city SP is in the process of filing the petition to remove sedition charge,” Kishore said.
When asked on the applicability of IPC section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups, religion), Kishore said, “Prima facie the case of 153 A is made out but that is again part of investigation.”
When contacted, one of the accused Mohammad Arif Amir alleged the administration was not giving them permission to protest despite several requests. “The protest happened without permission and it is a mistake from our side. However, there was nothing seditious in our protest as we did not use raise inflammatory or provocative slogans,” he claimed.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren tweeted, “Law is not made to frighten people or suppress their voice. It is to make them feel secure. In my leadership, the law will make their voices loud. Action will be taken against the errant officer, but will appeal to the people of my state that it is their duty to respect the law.”
“I immediately cancel the sedition charge invoked against 3,000 people of Dhanbad,” he said.