Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre on Friday, a day after a first information report was filed against 49 eminent personalities who had written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against mob lynchings. Gandhi said the FIR was evidence that the country was moving towards becoming an authoritarian state, PTI reported.

“Everybody knows what is going on in the country. It’s not a secret,” Gandhi told reporters in Wayanad in Kerala. “We are moving into an authoritarian state... Anybody who says anything against the prime minister, anybody who raises anything against the government is put in jail and is attacked.” He added that the media had also been “crushed”.

Gandhi is in Wayanad, his constituency, to express solidarity with the protests against the night traffic ban on the highway passing through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

The Congress leader said that there were two ideologies in the country, of which one believed that the country should be ruled by “one man, one ideology”. “On one side, there is the idea that the country should be ruled by one man, one ideology and everybody else should shut up,” he said. “On the other side, there is the Congress party and the Opposition who are saying no and that this country has many divergent views, different languages, cultures, many different expressions and those voices should not be crushed.”

In their letter to Modi in July, the public figures claimed that the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan had become a “provocative war cry” and the reason for a number of lynchings. A lawyer, Sudhir Kumar Ojha, who claimed that the letter had “tarnished India’s image” and “undermined the impressive performance of the prime minister”, had filed a complaint, which led to the FIR.

According to unidentified police officials, the FIR was lodged in Muzaffarpur district under Indian Penal Code sections related to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace. The charges were reportedly registered after an order by Chief Judicial Magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari, who ruled on a petition filed by advocate Ojha.

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