Noted defence expert Abhijit Iyer-Mitra has been arrested by the Delhi Police, on the directions of relevant authorities in Odisha, for allegedly offending “religious sensibilities” with his satirical video on the Sun Temple.
"Abhijit Iyer has been taken to Nizamuddin police station. He has been told that a case has been registered against him in Odisha," his lawyer has said.
UPDATE: Just talked with @Iyervval's lawyer, friend @TweetinderKaul. He is at the courts awaiting Abhijit. Will be applying for bail.— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) September 20, 2018
Odisha Police is INSISTING on remand - they want to take him to Odisha. FOR WHAT? This is plain harassment of a citizen on political pressure.
Mitra’s arrest came after legislators of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and opposition Congress demanded action against him for what they said were “derogatory remarks” on the 13th-century temple in Konark.
According to his family and friends, Mitra is being targeted by the Naveen Patnaik-led government in Odisha as he is a friend of former BJD leader Baijayant Panda. A former member of parliament, Panda had resigned from the party earlier this year after a bitter falling out with Chief Minister Patnaik.
So Odisha Police has arrested my friend @Iyervval for his satirical humor because it “hurt religious sentiments”. This is the other side of Indian democracy where religious sentiment supersedes and prevails over all other fundamental rights. We remain stuck in Middle Ages. Shame.— Aarti Tikoo Singh (@AartiTikoo) September 20, 2018
Earlier, BJD and Congress workers had burnt effigies of Panda and Mitra in Bhubaneswar during their protest march against the video.
#Odisha: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) workers protest against former BJD leader Baijayant Panda in Bhubaneswar demanding his arrest for allegedly flying his chopper over an "eco-sensitive zone" in Chilika Lake. His chopper has already been seized by police & investigation is underway. pic.twitter.com/Ogup1q3c2h— ANI (@ANI) September 18, 2018
According to reports, a privilege motion was also moved against Mitra in Odisha Assembly over his alleged comments against the members.
Mitra, a well known columnist, has written for Swarajya. He as also interviewed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) Subramanian Swamy for the magazine.
This is a developing story. More details awaited.