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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Assam: Silchar journalist booked for sedition over article on portal

Anirban Roy Choudhury, who runs Barak Bulletin, received summons from the Cachar Police after they registered an FIR, based on a complaint filed by a Santanu Sutradhar.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: December 5, 2021 7:59:30 am
Anirban Roy Choudhury

A Silchar-based journalist was Saturday booked under multiple charges, including Section 124 (A) (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, for alleged “objectionable” article he wrote for his news portal, police said.

Anirban Roy Choudhury, who runs Barak Bulletin, a news portal in Cachar district of Assam’s Bengali-speaking Barak Valley, received the summons from the Cachar Police after an FIR based on a complaint filed by a Santanu Sutradhar, also based in Silchar.

Cachar SP Raman Dhillon said, “We received the complaint and we have registered a case, The investigation is under process.” The other Sections on Choudhury are 153 (A), and 501/505 (2) of the IPC.

Thirty-one-year-old Choudhury, who has been asked to report to the Silchar Sadar Police Station at 11am on Monday, said he will “fully cooperate” with the police. However, Barak Bulletin did not back down. “As the founder of Barak Bulletin, I assure, Barak Bulletin is not scared. Barak Bulletin will continue to serve the governed and if that means writing against the governors, we will!!! Long Live Independent Journalism,” Choudhury wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Sutradhar’s complaint, filed on December 1, alleged that Choudhury’s articles could “hamper the brotherhood between the Bengali and Assamese of Assam.” It alleged that Barak Bulletin published pieces in “support” of politician Pradip Dutta Roy who was arrested for sedition last month.

Roy, who is the convenor of Barak Democratic Front,  was arrested on November 27 after authorities questioned him in connection with an ultimatum he allegedly issued regarding a government hoarding written in Assamese. Roy had allegedly said that if the hoarding, on Covid-19 vaccination drive, was not removed within 48 hours, his party would take to the streets. The hoarding was removed but Roy was taken in for questioning and later arrested, charged under Sections 153A (promoting disharmony between groups), 295 (defilement of an object held sacred), 295A (outraging religious feelings), 124 A (sedition).

Sutradhar, who is a member of All Assam Bengali Hindu Association, added that he had filed the complaint in his personal capacity and the organisation had nothing to do with it.

Language has been a faultline in Assam for several decades and there has been a historic divide between the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley and Assamese-speaking Brahmaputra Valley. The Assam Official Language Act, 1960, which declared Assamese as the official language of the state, has special provisions for the use of Bengali for official purposes in the Barak Valley districts.

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