An FIR was filed in Bihar's Muzaffarpur Police Station against 49 people, including film director Mani Ratnam, for the letter they wrote to the Prime Minister. It was seen as a hate mongering letter referring to "Jai Shree Ram" as a war cry against minorities in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Critics said the letter had hurt the sentiments of many Hindu worshippers.
The letter, which had signatories including Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, actor and filmmaker Revathy Asha, historian and writer Ramchandra Guha, filmmaker and actor Konkona Sen Sharma and actor Kani Kusruti noted concerns over increasing identity-based hate crimes and lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities in India. Mani Ratnam is well known for his "Terrorism trilogy" consisting of Roja, Bombay and Dil Se.
"If an appeal to the Prime minister of a country, to look into a serious problem within governance is made, by some of the most prominent minds of that country, it only shows their faith in democracy and their patriotism. If such an act of patriotism is met with a sedition charge, then it questions the values of all patriotic citizens of that country. And that doesn't sound like democracy," says national award winning filmmaker Vetrimaaran.
The case was lodged after an order was passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari based on a petition filed by local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha. It has been filed for acting against the nation, dishonouring Prime Minister and also for trying to create a rift between Hindu and Muslim communities.
"It is ethically not right to send the letter to the media directly. If their intention was good, they would send a personal letter and requested the Prime Minister to act. In a country of 130 crore people the hidden agenda is to give a jolt and it's a half-baked attempt. The minority accusing the majority cannot be termed secularism," says S.VE. Shekher.
It is noted that the FIR has been lodged under IPC sections relating to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with intent to provoke breach of peace.
"This is definitely not fair, the judiciary is moving away from democratic norms. Anyone in the country has the right to freedom and speech. The press is the fourth pillar of democracy. It is the right medium to voice out our opinions," says Sudha Ramalingam, a senior advocate....