The Bihar Police on Wednesday ordered closure of the sedition case filed against 49 celebrities who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn mob lynchings in July. The case was found to “maliciously false”, NDTV reported. The police also said that the complainant, Sudhir Ojha, will be charged with filing frivolous complaints.
“The SSP [senior superintendent of police of Muzaffarpur] recommended closure of the case and action against the complainant for filing a false case without any rhyme or reason,” police spokesperson Jitendra Kumar said. “The investigating officer in the case will file the final report at the local court within a day or two.”
The petitioner is linked with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre. On Wednesday, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, a BJP leader, claimed he was also a victim of Ojha’s habit of filing frivolous petitions against famous personalities. Sushil Modi also said it would be wrong to target the prime minister, BJP or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in this matter.
The 49 signatories of the letter include filmmakers Aparna Sen, Anurag Kashyap, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal, historian Ramachandra Guha, author Amit Chaudhuri, scholar Ashis Nandy and actor Konkona Sen Sharma.
In their letter to Modi in July, the public figures had claimed that the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan had become a “provocative war cry” and the reason for a number of lynchings. Ojha, who claimed that the letter had “tarnished India’s image” and “undermined the impressive performance of the prime minister”, had filed a complaint, after which an FIR was filed.
The Centre has twice in the last week denied that it had any role in filing the sedition case. On Tuesday, Union minister Prakash Javadekar claimed that the “tukde-tukde gang” was behind the rumour that the government had a role in filing the petition.
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.
As many as 185 celebrities on Monday endorsed the open letter to Modi and condemned the FIR.
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