Assam journalist convicted of sedition following portal article
A SILCHAR-based journalist was convicted on Saturday on several counts, including Article 124 (A) (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, for an alleged “reprehensible” article he wrote for his news portal , police said.
Anirban Roy Choudhury, who runs Barak Bulletin, an information portal in the Cachar district of the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley in Assam, received the summons from Cachar police after an FIR based on a complaint filed by a Santanu Sutradhar, also based in Silchar.
Cachar SP Raman Dhillon said: “We have received the complaint and we have registered a case, the investigation is ongoing.” The other sections on Choudhury are 153 (A) and 501/505 (2) of the CPI.
Choudhury, 31, who was asked to report to Silchar Sadar police station at 11 am on Monday, said he would “fully cooperate” with the police. However, Barak Bulletin did not back down. âAs the founder of Barak Bulletin, I assure you, Barak Bulletin is not afraid. Barak Bulletin will continue to serve the governed and if that means writing against the governors, we will !!! Long live independent journalism, âChoudhury wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Sutradhar’s complaint, filed on December 1, alleged that Choudhury’s articles could “hinder brotherhood between Bengalis and Assamese in Assam.” He alleged that Barak Bulletin published articles in “support” for politician Pradip Dutta Roy who was arrested for sedition last month.
Roy, who is the chairman of Barak’s Democratic Front, was arrested on November 27 after authorities questioned him about an ultimatum he allegedly issued regarding a government hoarding written in Assamese. Roy is said to have said that if the hoarding, during the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, was not withdrawn within 48 hours, his party would take to the streets. The hoarding was withdrawn but Roy was taken for questioning and later arrested, charged under Sections 153A (promotion of discord between groups), 295 (tainting of an object held sacred), 295A (outrageous religious feelings ), 124 A (sedition).
Sutradhar, who is a member of the All Assam Bengali Hindu Association, added that he filed the complaint in his personal capacity and the organization had nothing to do with it.
The language has been a loophole in Assam for several decades, and there has been a historic rift between the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley and the Assamese-speaking Brahmaputra Valley. The Assam Official Language Act, 1960, which declared Assamese the official language of the state, contains special provisions for the use of Bengali for official purposes in the districts of the Barak Valley.