- Journalist-blogger Abhijit Iyer-Mitra has been released on bail
- He had uploaded a video allegedly criticising the Konark temple
- The police added that the "accused tweeted against the Odiya people"
Journalist-blogger Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, who was arrested in Delhi today by the Odisha Police, has been released on bail. Mr Mitra was picked up from his home in Nizamuddin over his alleged derogatory remarks about the Konark temple and Lord Jagannath.
A case was registered and the court has asked Mr Mitra to join an investigation by the Odisha police. If convicted, Mr Mitra could get a maximum of three years in jail.
"Abhijit Iyer-Mitra was taken to Nizamuddin police station. He was told that a case had been registered against him in Odisha, but he wasn't told what the case was or who registered it," Mr Mitra's told news agency ANI.
The trigger for the criticism and his subsequent arrest was a video that Mr Mitra had uploaded on social media, in which he allegedly criticised the famous 13th century temple.
The Odisha police told the court that Mr Mitra "made unpalatable and irresponsible remarks about Konark Sun Temple with an intention to outrage and to hurt religious feelings which may create communal friction."
The police added that the "accused tweeted against the Odiya people".
Historian and author Ramachandra Guha termed Mr Mitra's arrest as "appalling". "The archaic colonial laws that allow such arrests must be struck down. The Odisha Government must rise above such pettiness. The right to offend is fundamental to democracy," Mr Guha tweeted.
During the day, the Odisha Assembly moved a privilege motion and constituted a committee today to suggest action against the journalist. The members of all parties demanded stringent action against Mr Mitra.
Legislators of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the opposition Congress had on Tuesday demanded action against Mr Mitra for making alleged objectionable remarks about the Sun Temple in Konark.
The BJD members sat on a dharna in the well of the House and later near the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the assembly premises.
Accusing Mr Mitra of ridiculing the Sun Temple, BJD lawmaker Sanjay Dasburma said, "It (Mitra's video) is an insult to the state and its existence. Action should be taken against him."
Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said, "There are two video clips which show a non-Odia man standing in front of the Konark Temple and making offensive comments. He says the art and sculpture are contrary to the Hindu culture. His comments are unwarranted and condemnable."
The content of the video is enough evidence to prosecute him under the law, Mr Mishra said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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