The Bihar police has closed the sedition case against 49 prominent artists, activists and intellectuals for writing a letter to the prime minister protesting mob lynching. NDTV quoted the police as saying that a case would instead be registered against the petitioner, Sudhir Ojha, for filing frivolous complaints.
This follows the massive outrage in cultural and political circles at the filing of the FIR last week. Eminent artists, intellectuals and filmmakers in the country, including Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Shubha Mudgal, Ramachandra Guha and Aparna Sen were named in the FIR which was filed as per the order of the chief judicial magistrate of Muzzaffarpur. The 49 eminent citizens, in a letter written in July, had called on the prime minister to ensure that mob lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities be stopped immediately. They also called for respecting dissent and pointed out that “criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation.”
Following Sudhir Ojha’s complaint and the filing of the FIR, many more spoke out against the suppression of dissent. An open letter endorsing the earlier one was signed by more than a thousand of writers, artists and intellectuals across the country and was released in multiple languages. Meanwhile, in Kerala, members of the Students Federation of India and the Democratic Youth Federation of India sent at least 1.5 lakh copies of the original letter to the prime minister.
The open letter published by Indian Cultural Forum said,
"All of us, as members of the Indian cultural community, as citizens of conscience, condemn such harassment. We do more: we endorse every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister. This is why we share their letter here once again, and appeal to the cultural, academic and legal communities to do the same. This is why more of us will speak every day. Against mob lynching. Against the silencing of people’s voices. Against the misuse of courts to harass citizens." The letter can be read here
Muzaffarpur SSP Manoj Kumar Sinha, who issued the order to close the case, was quoted by PTI as saying that the allegations were levelled against the accused out of "mischief" and "lacked substance."