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Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal booked for sedition for petition against mob violence

A first information report (FIR) has been lodged against the 49 signatories of the petition that was sent to prime minister Narendra Modi back in July.

Our Correspondent

Filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal and Anurag Kashyap are among the 49 signatories to a petition against growing mob violence in the country who have been charged with sedition and 'supporting secessionist tendencies' in a first information report (FIR) filed at the Sadar police station in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.

The 49 signatories had written an open letter against the growing incidents of mob lynching in the country to prime minister Narendra Modi back in July. 

According to a Press Trust of India (PTI) report, the case was registered on the basis of an order issued by chief judicial magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari issued two months ago on a petition filed by lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha. 

PTI quoted Ojha as saying, "The CJM had passed the order on 20 August, accepting my petition upon receipt of which an FIR was lodged today at the Sadar police station here".

The lawyer said all 49 signatories have been named in his petition which "tarnished the image of the country and undermined the impressive performance of the prime minister" besides "supporting secessionist tendencies".

The signatories had written to the prime minister and urged him to act against the growing incidents of mob violence in the name of religion and cow protection. 

The open letter read, "There is no democracy without dissent. People should not be branded ‘anti-national’ or ‘urban naxal’ and incarcerated because of dissent against the government. Criticizing the ruling party does not imply criticizing the nation. No ruling party is synonymous with the country where it is in power. It is only one of the political parties of that country. Hence anti-government stands cannot be equated with anti-national sentiments. An open environment where dissent is not crushed only makes for a stronger nation." 

The signatories included prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, political psychologist Ashis Nandy, actress Konkona Sensharma, actors Parambrata Chatterjee and Soumitra Chatterjee, and director Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

A report in The Hindu newspaper stated that the police had filed the FIR under sections of the Indian Penal Code related to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious sentiments, and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace.