Abhijit Iyer is inconsequential, Naveen personally taking interest to embarrass Jay Panda: National media

Bhubaneswar: The recent arrest of journalist Abhijit Iyer Mitra by Odisha police in New Delhi on charges of making derogatory statements about Odisha and Konark Sun Temple has landed the Odisha government in the firing line with journalists across the spectrum criticising such high handedness.

The turn of events that led to the arrest of Abhijit Iyer Mitra has certainly not gone down well with journalists, who have come out in support and condemned the arrest.

Columnist Vir Sanghvi in a twitter post wrote, “The detention of Abhijit Iyer Mitra is a scandal & a blot on Indian democracy. Even if he wasn’t being ironic & actually meant what he said he had a perfect right to say it. Freedom of speech is meaningless without the right to offend.”

Editorial Adviser of Republic TV and cofounder of Newsminute Chitra Subramaniam termed such incident as shameful for Odisha and Naveen Patnaik government.

Senior journalist Ruben Banerjee alleged that “Abhijit Iyer-Mitra Is Just a Collateral Damage, Real Target Is Jay Panda.”

Banerjee further questioned the action by Odisha police in this particular case.

“Many people say many things on social media. Are we supposed to take cognizance of it? It clearly implies that Abhijit Iyer Mitra is inconsequential in the scheme of things. It means that Naveen Patnaik is personally taking interest in the case,” Banerjee said adding that it is not just a religious issue, it is more of a political issue because in this case they think they can embarrass Jay Panda.

Senior Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai wrote, “Abhijit Iyer is the latest victim of a police state that doesn’t know a simple truth of a democratic society; free speech allows the right to offend/ satire minus hate/ incitement to violence.”

Meanwhile, the first meeting of the House Committee of the Odisha Assembly constituted to investigate the matter will be held tomorrow, informed Opposition leader Narasingha Mishra, who is the chairman of the Committee.

Iyer was arrested in Delhi yesterday but was later granted conditional bail by Saket Court till September 28 on a surety of Rs 1 lakh. He has been directed to depose at Konark Police Station in Odisha. Odisha Police’s plea to take Iyer on transit remand was also rejected at it failed to produce necessary documents yesterday.