The Odisha Police on Thursday arrested defence analyst Abhijit Iyer Mitra from New Delhi, days after his comments on Twitter about the Konark Temple led to an uproar in the state Assembly.
He was granted bail on a surety of Rs 1 lakh and has been asked to join the investigation in Bhubaneswar by September 28, ANI reported.
Mitra was charged under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295A and 298 (criminalising acts or words uttered intended to outrage or wound the religious feelings of any individual or class), and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Earlier, the analyst’s lawyer had said they did not know the charges against Mitra or who has filed the case. “He hasn’t been given a copy of the FIR,” ANI quoted the lawyer as saying. He was first taken to the Nizamuddin police station and then to a court in Saket for remand.
“We haven’t even been given a copy of the FIR so we can’t say what the offences are, who the complainant is or under what sections case has been registered,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, a privilege motion was moved against Mitra in the Odisha Assembly demanding action against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. The Assembly Speaker has also approved a proposal to form a house committee, led by the Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra to investigate matter. There was also commotion in the state Assembly on Tuesday over Mitra’s allegedly derogatory remarks about the Sun Temple in Konark.
On September 16, Mitra had posted a video from the temple on Twitter. Pointing to the erotic sculptures of couples in various stages of intimacy at the temple complex, Mitra said: “Can this be a holy place? Not at all. This is a conspiracy against Hindus by Muslims who want to keep us down. Jai Sriram. In our new Ram temple, such obscene sculptures will not be there.”
Soon after, in another tweet he clarified that it was a joke. “Jokes aside this temple is just mindblowing,” he wrote. “The sculptures are exquisite & it has a great sense of symmetry & gravitas.”
Following the uproar over the remarks, both in the Odisha Assembly as well as outside, he tweeted: “Happy to answer to anyone for my allegedly ‘distasteful’ remarks. Says a lot about the abysmal intellectual Calibre of @Naveen_Odisha’s MLA’s the cant tell satire from seriousness.”
The Odisha Police on Monday seized a helicopter belonging to former Biju Janata Dal MP Baijayant Jay Panda for allegedly flying over the Chilika lake, which is a no-flying zone, on September 15. Mitra and another journalist were also on the flight.