The Odisha Legislative Assembly has today (17 November) granted pardon to strategic affairs commentator Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, who was arrested by the state police for his alleged derogatory remarks on the Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha, Odishabytes reports.
He was also charged with defaming the MLAs, Chief Minister and journalists of the state. Iyer-Mitra was arrested following the recommendation of the House Committee.
Addressing the media persons, chairperson of the House Committee and leader of the Opposition, Narasingha Mishra, said that he had submitted the report to the Speaker yesterday as per his directive.
“The House Committee in its report had recommended granting pardon to Abhijit as he has tendered an unconditional apology to the House Committee for his derogatory remarks. The report was placed before the State Assembly today and after a motion, the Assembly unanimously decided to grant pardon to him,” Mishra said.
Stating that the person, who had taken Iyer-Mitra on a tour, should have briefed him about the culture and tradition of Odisha, he said the House Committee requested the Speaker to direct the state government to provide all books and journals on Odisha’s tradition, culture, art and architecture to Iyer-Mitra, so that he gets an idea about the state.
With the State Assembly granting pardon to Iyer-Mitra, he will be released from the Jharpada jail where he has been lodged since his arrest on 23 October.
The decision to form the House Committee was taken at the all-party meeting convened by the Speaker, Pradip Kumar Amat on 20 September after members cutting across party lines, vehemently protested and criticised Iyer-Mitra’s statements during the privilege motion moved by Congress during the monsoon session of the State Assembly.
The meeting decided that the House Committee will probe the matter and submit its report in the State Assembly on the first day of the winter session.
After his first appearance before the House Committee of the State Assembly on 23 October, the Saheed Nagar police arrested Iyer-Mitra on the same day and produced him before the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) court in Bhubaneswar, which remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days till 5 November.
Iyer-Mitra was later moved to the Jharpada jail by the police. On 25 October, the Konark Police took Iyer-Mitra into a four-day remand to interrogate him over his derogatory remarks against the Sun Temple and about his aerial tour to Konark.
The House Committee on 23 October had asked Iyer-Mitra to appear in person on 2 November and submit an affidavit. Acting on the directive of the committee, he had appeared on 2 November. But as he had failed to submit the affidavit, the court had asked him to appear again on the next day with the affidavit, which he did.
Iyer-Mitra’s arrest had led to a storm of sorts on social media triggering a free speech debate with several in the journalist fraternity demanding his immediate release.
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