Journalist Abhijit Iyer Mitra arrested for comments on Konark Sun Temple, Odisha culture

Sent to 14-day judicial custody; police whisked away the Delhi-based journalist after he presented himself and apologised before an Odisha Assembly committee that had summoned him for his alleged derogatory comments

The Bhubaneswar police arrested Abhijit Iyer Mitra, a Delhi-based journalist, on Tuesday in connection with two cases registered against him for having made comments on social media that allegedly hurt religious sentiments.

Iyer Mitra was whisked away by the police after he presented himself before a committee of the Odisha Assembly, which had summoned him for his alleged derogatory comment on MLAs of the state.

He was produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC), which is learnt to have been sent him to 14-day judicial custody. According to reports, Iyer Mitra is currently lodged in Jharpada jail.

Earlier, Abhijit Iyer Mitra, who described himself as an academic, begged unconditional and unreserved apology for his “stupidity” before the committee headed by former law minister and leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra.

Mishra said Iyer Mitra was asked to appear before the committee again on 2 November and submit through an affidavit if he had anything more to say in his defence.

READ | Row in Odisha assembly over ‘blasphemous’ video comment by journalist on Konark Temple

The committee, he said, would examine the bonafide of the affidavit and then take a call on whether it needed to summon any other person or not.

The House Committee was  constituted to probe the alleged breach of privilege by him.

It may be noted that Iyer Mitra had sparked a huge row in Odisha by his postings on social media platforms.

In September, there was a hue and cry over Iyer Mitra’s comments on Konark Temple, Odia people, MLAs etc. There were two cases registered against him while the Assembly, which was in session, denounced him.

The Odisha Police had arrested him in Delhi on 20 September but he secured relief from a Delhi court that rejected the remand application of the police and asked him to cooperate with the investigation.

On Tuesday, after he was grilled by the House Committee for several hours, the city police took him for interrogation in connection with the two cases registered in Konark and Bhubaneswar.

It may be recalled that Iyer Mitra and another journalist had been on a sightseeing trip and were reportedly hosted by former MP Baijayant Panda. They had used Panda’s helicopter to go to Konark Temple.

Meanwhile, the police in Nimapada and Konark in Puri district have sought a seven-day remand of the journalist.

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