Bihar Police on Sunday clarified that the case against 49 individuals who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against mob lynchings in the country were filed on the basis of a court order, NDTV reported. State Police chief Guptesvar Pandey’s remarks came a day after Union minister Prakash Javadekar said that case against the signatories had not been filed by the central government.

“We have taken cognizance of this matter and whatever FIR was filed, it was on the local CJM [Chief Judicial Magistrate] court’s order,” Pandey said. “I can assure you that an investigation will be done as per the order, and there’s no cause of worry or panic. In view of the sensitivity of the matter, we would like to finish the investigation sooner rather than later.” Police had slapped sedition charges on the 49 individuals on Friday after a lawyer from Bihar filed a complaint against them.

The 49 personalities included historian Ramchandra Guha, actor Konkana Sen Sharma, and filmmakers Mani Ratnam and Aparna Sen, among others. 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. Now, they have been accused of tarnishing “the image of the country”, and undermining “the impressive performance of the prime minister” besides “supporting secessionist tendencies”.

Meanwhile, political parties and film organisations on Sunday demanded that the authorities withdraw the sedition case against the individuals. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy along with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Congress and many others condemned the move, PTI reported.

The CPI(M) criticised the Centre and said the decision to slap sedition charges showed the “growing authoritarianism” in the country. The Kerala Chalachitra Academy, on the other hand, described it as “blatant violation” of freedom of expression.

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