Delhi-based journalist and commentator Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, who is in jail for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Sun temple in Odisha's Konark, has written to the Chief Secretary of the state seeking his release.
In the petition accessed by Outlook, Iyer-Mitra has written to the Odisha government asking to withdraw “sanction to prosecute under Section 196 of the CrPC in the 2 cases against me”.
“The Hon’ble Legislative Assembly had on Nov 16, 2018, pardoned me for my remarks and found in general that I had not acted out of any malice or malintent. Furthermore, in addition to my apology to the Odisha assembly, I have unreservedly and unconditionally apologized for my words and actions that may have unintentionally hurt the sentiments of the people of Odisha, the Chief Minister and any others.”
“I, therefore, request that the government of Odisha consider withdrawing/quashing/withholding sanction to prosecute under Section 196 of the CrPC in the 2 cases against me, following the kindness of the Hon’ble assembly accepting my apology and the finding of a lack of intent or malice,” the petition reads.
On Sunday, Iyer-Mitra was admitted to a hospital after he complained of illness. He is in the high-security Jharpada jail for over a month.
The Odisha Assembly had on November 17 pardoned Mitra after he tendered an unconditional and unreserved apology for his statement against the lawmakers.
The assembly accepted the recommendations made by a House Committee which was set up to inquire into the question of alleged breach of privilege relating to the statement made by Mitra.
He had allegedly made derogatory remarks against Odisha’s Konark temple. He insists what he said on the video, that has since gone viral, was meant to be just a satire, but many of the state residents were outraged and there has been a clamour for ‘exemplary’ punishment.
Iyer-Mitra has been in the eye of a controversy ever since he flew over the Chilika lake with Baijayant Jay Panda, a former MP of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).