The Odisha government on Tuesday accepted defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra’s plea and decided not to grant sanction to the police to prosecute him, ANI reported. The government, in a press release, said it will withdraw all other cases filed against Iyer-Mitra. He has been in custody since October 24 for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of the people of Odisha.
“He has appealed to accept his apology and contrition for having hurt the sentiments of the people of Odisha unintentionally,” a press release by the home department said. “He has further mentioned that in consideration of his unconditional apology, the Odisha Legislative Assembly have pardoned him on November 16.” Taking this representation into account, the government said it has decided not to allow the defence analyst’s prosecution.
Iyer-Mitra has been in a Bhubaneswar jail since October 24 in connection with a case filed against his satirical tweets about the Jagannath temple in 2017. Last week, he was taken to hospital after complaining of stomach ache.
The defence analyst was first arrested in September for making allegedly derogatory comments on the Sun Temple in Konark. A Delhi court granted him bail after he furnished a surety of Rs 1 lakh. The court also ordered him to join the police investigation but he did not, claiming a threat to his life. Iyer-Mitra then moved the Supreme Court for protection from arrest. On October 4, the top court refused to grant him bail, saying jail was the “safest place” for him.
Iyer-Mitra was again arrested on October 24 in connection with a criminal case filed for his tweets in 2017, in which he had said the Jagannath idol at a temple in Puri was actually from Kolkata and had been stolen “by evil Kalinga demon kings”.
The Odisha Assembly on November 17 passed a motion to pardon Iyer-Mitra and dropped charges of breach of privilege against him for his comments on the Sun Temple. The Assembly had granted him a pardon after accepting the recommendations of a House Committee that inquired into the allegations against him. The House Committee had also recommended providing him books on Odisha’s history and culture.