'Lacked substance': Bihar police drop sedition charge against Adoor, 48 others

Letter to PM on lynching: SSP orders closure of sedition case against Adoor, Guha and 47 others
(From left) Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ramachandra Guha
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Muzaffarpur (Bihar): After receiving flak from various quarters over the sedition charge against filmmakers and intellectuals, the Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police ordered closure of the case on Wednesday.

A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged at the Sadar police station in Bihar last week against 49 people including noted filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and historian Ramachandra Guha after they wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in the rising incidence of mob lynching.

The FIR was lodged by the police on an order of the chief judicial magistrate after a petition was filed by a local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha.

Muzaffarpur SSP Manoj Kumar Sinha said order has been issued by him for closure of the case as investigation so far revealed that allegations were levelled against the accused out of "mischief" and "lacked substance".

Interestingly, the petitioner had also named as "witnesses" Bollywood figures Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri and alleged that those named as accused had brought disrepute to the country and sought to tarnish the image of the prime minister.

Filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, actor Soumitra Chatterjee, vocalist Shubha Mudgal and others were booked under various sections of the IPC including sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feeling and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace.

The development had triggered nationwide outrage, evoking criticisms from top opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Close to 200 celebrities including historian Romila Thapar and actor Naseeruddin Shah among others came out with another open letter asking how an appeal to the Prime Minister could be construed as seditious.

The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy on Friday condemned the FIR against celebrities.

The academy said the move to book the film-makers and the cultural activists was a blatant violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

(With inputs from PTI)

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