A Delhi court has granted bail to journalist Abhijit Iyer Mitra who was arrested by the police on Thursday morning for allegedly making derogatory remarks on the Konark Sun Temple. The Delhi court, however, directed Mitra to join the investigation by Odisha police by September 28.
The court also asked Mitra, who was arrested from Hazrat Nizamuddin, to furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh and one surety of the like amount on a plea moved by him. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Manish Khurana, however, rejected the Odisha police’s petition, seeking his transit remand for three days to take him to his native state. Along with Mitra, former BJD-leader Baijayant Panda is also an accused in the case.
On Monday, a helicopter flown by Panda was seized by police for its alleged attempt to land on Odisha’s Chilika lake, which is a “no-flying eco-sensitive zone”. Panda, who quit the BJD in May after a long-drawn feud, called the seizure a “brazen attempt to handicap my movement”.
The helicopter was seized after an FIR was registered against the alleged attempted landing of an unauthorised aircraft on Saturday when Panda was riding a chopper across a stretch of coastal Odisha up to Konark.
Odisha police told the court that Mitra “gave unpalatable and irresponsible remarks on Konark Sun Temple by uploading his views on social media with an intention to outrage and to wound religious feeling which may create communal fraction”. The police said the “accused took his photograph along with some portion of Konark Sun Temple and he tweeted against the Odiya people”. The tweets were made on September 14.
A case was filed under various sections of Indian Penal Code, including 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion, grace, place of birth, residence, language etc) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs). If convicted, the accused may get a maximum of three-year jail term.
Earlier in the day, the Odisha Assembly adopted a privilege motion against Mitra for his alleged derogatory remarks. Odisha Assembly Speaker Pradip Amat also approved a proposal for a House Committee to investigate the matter, even as politicians cutting across political lines slammed Mitra for his comments.
(With PTI inputs)
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