Bihar police orders closure of sedition case against 49 celebrities who wrote open letter to PM Modi

The letter by the 49 had said that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately while stressing that there was 'no democracy without dissent'.

Published: 09th October 2019 10:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th October 2019 10:44 PM   |  A+A-

(From left to right ) Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, Manirathnam

(From left to right ) Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, Manirathnam

Express News Service

PATNA: The Muzaffarpur Police on Wednesday ordered for a closure of sedition case lodged against 49 celebrities who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month seeking his intervention in the rising incidence of mob lynching.

Additional Director General (ADG) HQ Jitendra Kumar said Muzaffarpur SSP Manoj Kumar had supervised the case. An order has been issued by him for the closure of the case as investigations failed to reveal that the allegations levelled by a local lawyer as seditious.

ALSO READ | FIR lodged against celebrities who wrote open letter to PM Modi on mob lynching

“Facts of the investigation is that the allegations were levelled against the accused out of "mischief" and lacked substance as no evidence or supporting documents were produced by the complainant, not even the alleged letter written by the 49 celebrities," ADG said.

The FIR was lodged at the Sadar police station by local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha last week upon the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court, which had forwarded a petition to the SSP’s office to file an FIR.

The lawyer had alleged that the celebrities, which included Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Ramchandra Guha, Mani Ratnam and Aparna Sen, Anurag Kashyap, Shyam Benegal, actor Soumitra Chatterjee as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal, had attempted to raise a communal divide and their views had harmed the nation.

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The FIR was lodged in Muzaffarpur district under Indian Penal Code ( IPC ) sections related to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace.

The letter by the 49 had said that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately while stressing that there was "no democracy without dissent". The letter also noted that Jai Shri Ram had been reduced to a "provocative war cry."

The FIR lodged at Muzaffarpur led to a nation-wide outcry with people and opposition parties seeing it as an attempt to crush dissent. While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi saw in it a ‘secret agenda’ to curb dissent, left youth groups started a signature campaign for 1.5 lakh letter to the PM protesting the FIR every day.

Later, on Monday, 185 celebrities from all over India including authors, actors and dancers, endorsed an open letter written by 49 personalities to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the incidences of mob lynchings in the country, while condemning the FIR filed in Muzaffarpur.

ALSO READ | 'How can court admit such a petition?' Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Rahul on FIR over open letter to PM Modi

The signatories included actor Naseeruddin Shah, dancer Mallika Sarabhai, authors Ashok Vajpeyi, Nayantara Sahgal and Shashi Deshpande, historian Romila Thapar, and artist Vivan Sundaram.

“An FIR has been lodged against forty-nine of our colleagues in the cultural community, simply because they performed their duty as respected members of civil society,” their statement said. “They wrote an open letter to the prime minister, expressing concern about mob lynching in our country. Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?”

The Bihar Police had said earlier that the case filed against 49 individuals was on the basis of a court order. Director-General of Police Bihar, Gupteshwar Pandey's, remarks came a day after Union minister Prakash Javadekar clarified that the case was not filed by the central government.

On Wednesday, deputy chief minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi asserted that BJP had nothing to do with the sedition case filed by the lawyer against 49 celebrities. 

Modi had termed the lawyer as a "serial litigant and who had filed more than 715 cases in the last many years.

Meanwhile, lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha said that he would file a protest petition in the court against the police investigation declaring the case false.      

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