Defence analyst Abhijit Iyer Mitra, who was arrested on September 20 for his comments on Twitter about the Konark Temple in the state, has sought police protection to appear before a House committee in the Odisha Assembly, PTI reported on Friday. A six-member House Committee has summoned Iyer Mitra on October 11 over his alleged breach of privilege and “derogatory remarks”.
Mitra’s lawyer Nikhil Mehra has applied for security on behalf of his client, Police Superintendent Sarthak Sarangi said. “His counsel has said Iyer Mitra will attend a House Committee meeting on October 11 and sought protection,” Sarangi said. “We have forwarded the mail to the Bhubaneswar deputy commissioner of police.”
The Supreme Court had on Thursday rejected Mitra’s bail plea and had said jail was the “safest place” for him.
Mitra was arrested in New Delhi last month, days after he 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.”
His comments caused an uproar in the Odisha Assembly. A lower court in Delhi granted him bail on a surety of Rs 1 lakh.
On Thursday, Mehra said he respected the Supreme Court’s decision. “I will not file a review petition in the case,” ANI quoted Mehra as saying. “Now it is up to the police to take a decision to arrest my client or not. My client will join the investigation.”