On Anand Ranganathan’s birthday, the news came that his best friend Abhijit Iyer Mitra who has been in prison for making a joke on Twitter finally seems to have got some relief and is likely to be released soon. The development took place yesterday after Anand asked Dr. Subramanian Swamy to intervene in the matter. Anand took a stand for him ever since he was imprisoned.
According to reports, Abhijit had been suffering from stomach pain and had been admitted to the surgery ward. He was taken for a medical checkup on Friday after having complained of severe mental trauma and stress. He later returned to the jail but his condition worsened further and authorities had to shift him to the hospital. It was also reported that he has lost about 10 kg weight in the last one month.
Two FIRs were lodged against Abhijit in Puri and Khurda districts under different IPC sections. Earlier, he was arrested by the Odisha police on September 20th in Delhi. Bail was granted to him on October 5 by a trial court subsequently, after he promised to cooperate in the investigation. On October 4th, he tried for the further extension of his bail in the Supreme Court but the plea was dismissed.
Afterwards, Abhijit Mitra wrote a letter to the state government to consider withholding sanctions to prosecute him in certain criminal cases. On this remark, Odisha Govt. accepted his apology letter. Yesterday, Home Department of Government of Odisha made a press release and said, “Taking into account his representation, the Government has decided not to accord sanction of prosecution in cases where prosecution has been sought for and also decided to take steps to withdraw other cases pending against him by following laid procedures”.
“Just like that. A wave of a hand. The State has decided in its munificence that 40 days in prison was enough to teach Abhijit a lesson. Not 1, not 5, not 10, not 20, not 39.
All cases to be withdrawn.
WELCOME BACK, @Iyervval. (circular via @sagar13d of @OdishaInsight)”
Just like that. A wave of a hand. The State has decided in its munificence that 40 days in prison was enough to teach Abhijit a lesson. Not 1, not 5, not 10, not 20, not 39.
All cases to be withdrawn.
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) December 4, 2018
Despite this relief, the entire story is very sad. How can the state arrest him and treat him shabbily for almost 40 days only because of a joke? This reflects very poorly on the state government. Mitra was taken into judicial custody by Odisha police for making a joke on the Konark sun temple. Abhijit Mitra was treated badly in prison and his health deteriorated ever since then. Abhijit was hospitalized at the end, and perhaps that is what prompted them to release him.
Abhijit’s incarceration was widely criticized by media persons, politicians and human rights organizations as he was booked and jailed despite having apologized for the joke he made. The Odisha government allegedly used him to settle political scores with former BJD MP Bijayant Panda. According to several sources, the Odisha police wanted Abhijit to falsely implicate former MP Jay Panda for flying his chopper in an illegal zone. Jay Panda and Naveen Patnaik have been at loggerheads over the last few months. Many believe that Odisha Police hounded Abhijit because he refused to falsely implicate Panda.