Abhijit Iyer-Mitra granted bail after Odisha govt drops charges
A day after the Odisha government decided to drop charges against journalist and defense analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, an Odisha court has granted him bail. Iyer-Mitra had been in jail for a month, after making allegedly derogatory comments about the Konark Sun Temple that had offended the sentiments of the Odia people. Earlier, Iyer-Mitra had to be hospitalized after his health deteriorated. Here's more.
The government pardoned Iyer-Mitra after he tendered an unconditional apology
On December 4, in a press release, the Odisha government said that the state Legislative Assembly had "pardoned" the analyst. The press release further stated that the government had accepted Iyer-Mitra's appeal to consider withholding the sanction to prosecute him, after he tendered an unconditional apology. Currently, Iyer-Mitra is being treated at the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar.
READ: The government press release on pardoning Iyer-Mitra
The row had begun in September over allegedly derogatory comments
Iyer-Mitra had been arrested by Odisha police on October 23, and the police complaint against him stated that he had been arrested for making "derogatory, mischievous and objectionable" comments about the art and culture of Odisha, Lord Jagannath, and the Odia community as a whole. The row had begun in September when Iyer-Mitra had tweeted allegedly 'derogatory' comments on the Konark Temple in jest.
The Supreme Court had earlier denied Iyer-Mitra bail
After his Konark comments, Iyer-Mitra had been detained in Delhi, and had been granted bail by a lower court on the condition that he submit to a police investigation on September 28. However, Iyer-Mitra skipped the appointment, alleging threats to his life, thereby giving Odisha police new grounds to arrest him. He was subsequently denied bail by the Supreme Court.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi's exact words when Iyer-Mitra was denied bail
"If your life is in danger, then what better place to stay than jail? Your life will be secure [in jail]," newly-appointed Chief Justice of India, Rangan Gogoi, told Iyer-Mitra while dismissing his plea seeking protection from arrest.
Iyer-Mitra's incarceration was condemned by most
The Odisha government's incarceration of Iyer-Mitra was largely condemned by media persons, politicians, and human rights organizations, who alleged that the Naveen Patnaik government was cracking down on free speech. Many accused the Odisha government of using Iyer-Mitra's incarceration to settle political scores, as Iyer-Mitra's friend Baijayant Panda, a former BJD MP, was a vocal critic of the Naveen Patnaik government.