'Strange Things Happening in Our Country': Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Sedition Case against Celebrities
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and leader Shashi Tharoor also criticised the development, with the latter describing it as "a shocking and chilling development".
File photo of Indian director Adoor Gopalakrishnan. (AFP)
Thiruvananthapuram: Miffed after hearing the news that an FIR was lodged in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district against celebrities, including himself, for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi voicing concern over the growing incidents of mob lynching, ace film personality Adoor Gopalakrishnan has expressed huge dissatisfaction.
Speaking to reporters soon after hearing the news, Adoor, as he is popularly known, said strange things are happening in our country.
"In our country, we have heard about people shooting at the model of Gandhiji to commemorate Nathuram Godse's shooting Gandhiji and no court has registered any case in that," he said.
"Will any court admit such a petition based on writing a letter which was meant to express ones fears about the happenings in the country? And, if the news is true that a court has admitted it, then one will have to really suspect the legal system," he added.
Those who had signed the letter to Modi in July included Bollywood actress Konkana Sen, director Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal, Ramchandra Guha and 45 others.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who visited his constituency in Wayanad to express solidarity with the protesters opposing the night traffic ban on the national highway, in reply to a question on Friday said things have reached a stage that people are being arrested for speaking against Modi.
"The country is moving towards an authoritarian state and people who speak against the government or the Prime Minister are being put in jail, the media is being crushed. Presently an ideological fight is going on in the country and it's about if the country be ruled by one person and one ideology and all the others should shut their mouth," said Gandhi.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor described it as "a shocking and chilling development".
"Does Article 19 of the Constitution have no meaning for a police officer and a Chief Judicial Magistrate?" he questioned in a tweet. "Where is our democracy heading if free expression is countered by this kind of 'legal' harassment?"
This is a shocking & chilling development. Does Article 19 of the Constitution have no meaning for a police officer & a Chief Judicial Magistrate? Where is our democracy heading if free expression is countered by this kind of "legal" harassment? https://t.co/WvTbxX2eM4— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 4, 2019
Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees freedom on speech and expression to citizens.
Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi said there were two ideologies in the country — one nurtured the idea that the nation be ruled by "one man, one ideology", while the other was against crushing of different expressions and voices.
"On one side, there is the idea that the country should be ruled by one man, one ideology and everybody else should shut up. On the other side, there is the Congress party and the Opposition, who are saying no (to this) and that this country has many divergent views, different languages, cultures, many different expressions and those voices should not be crushed. That is the main battle going on in the country," he said.
According to district police officials, the case was filed in Muzaffarpur's Sadar police station on Thursday on the basis of an order by the local court.
Advocate SK Ojha had filed a petition in the Chief Judicial Magistrate court, which after hearing the case ordered police to lodge an FIR against the celebrities.
Ojha said that nearly 50 signatories to the letter were named as accused in his petition in which they allegedly "tarnished the image of the country and undermined the impressive performance of the Prime Minister", besides "supporting secessionist tendencies".
In the letter the celebrities had stated that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately, while stressing that there was "no democracy without dissent". The letter said that "Jai Shri Ram" had been reduced to a "provocative war cry".
(With inputs from agencies)
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