Sedition case against 50 celebrities dropped; case ‘lacked substance’

celebrities, sedition case, letter, petition, local advocate, Sudhir Kumar Ojha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, mob lynching, BJP, Muzaffarpur police, Jai Shri Ram, Tabrez Ansari lynching
Some of the celebrities who had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the increase in mob lynching incidents include film makers Mani Ratnam (left), Aparna Sen (centre) and Anurag Kashyap (right). Photos: file photo from PTI and Facebook.

Police here on Wednesday (October 9) ordered the closure of a sedition case lodged against almost 50 acclaimed artists and intellectuals who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year seeking his intervention in the rising incidents of mob lynching.

Muzaffarpur SSP Manoj Kumar Sinha said that he has issued an order for the closure of the case as investigation so far revealed that allegations were levelled against the accused out of “mischief” and “lacked substance”.

The FIR was lodged at the Sadar police station last week upon the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate which had forwarded a petition filed by local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha.

In a statement issued here, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi noted with dismay that the FIR was lodged upon the complaint of a “serial litigant” from the north Bihar town, who has filed countless petitions against well-known personalities “including myself”.

Also read: FIR against Mani Ratnam, Guha, others who wrote to Modi on mob lynching

He charged the “award wapasi and tukde tukde gangs” with using the incident to allege that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was against the right to freedom of expression.

“He is a serial litigant who has filed 715 PILs, besides petitions against well-known personalities like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and actors Amitabh Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan. He had even filed a case against me four years ago”, Modi said without referring to the Muzaffarpur-based advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha by name.

“The serial litigant got an FIR lodged against 49 celebrities merely on the basis of newspaper reports and among other sections of IPC the one for sedition was also added,” the Deputy CM said, referring to the FIR that has been registered at Sadar police station of Muzaffarpur following an order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate before whose court Ojha had filed his petition in July.

In the petition, Ojha had named filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, Mani Ratnam and Adoor Gopalakrishnan besides actors Revathi, Aparna Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee and historian Ramachandra Guha among the accused while Bollywood celebrities Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri among “witnesses”.

Also read: Naseeruddin Shah, Romila Thapar, others condemn FIR against 49 celebs

Modi asserted that BJP had “nothing to do” with a sedition case lodged in Muzaffarpur district against the 50 renowned celebrities.

“The BJP has nothing to do with the litigation nor does the Sangh Parivar. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has made it clear, time and again, that the Sangh is against any type of mob violence. Despite clarifications from him as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, the so-called intellectuals want to give importance to a serial litigant”, Modi alleged.

“The award wapasi and tukde tukde gangs are at it again. They are simply making use of the latest litigation by a serial litigant to paint the current regime as one that was throttling freedom of expression,” Modi lamented.

Notably, barely a few days after the FIR was lodged at Muzaffarpur on October 03 last, close to 200 renowned personalities including historian Romila Thapar, actor Naseeruddin Shah, Booker prize shortlisted author Jeet Thayil and activist Harsh Mander came out with an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister, in protest.

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