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Editor and publisher of Statesman arrested in Kolkata for "maliciously insulting" Muslims

The editor and publisher of the Statesman were briefly arrested and then released on bail on Wednesday after being charged with hurting Islamic sentiments in an article. Ravindra Kumar, editor of the Statesman, and publisher Anand Sinha have been charged with "deliberate act with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings."

“We arrested Ravindra Kumar, Editor , and Anand Sinha, Publisher, from their residences acting on a complaint,” Pradip Kumar Chattopadhyay, city police’s Joint Commissioner (Administration), told the Press Trust of India (PTI). The complaint was made under Section 295A (maliciously insulting the religions or the religious belief of any class) of the Indian Penal Code.

Kumar and Sharma were granted the bail on a surety of Rs.5,000 after they were brought before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate SS Anand.

The complaint was filed over an article published on February 5 in the newspaper titled "Why should I respect these oppressive religions" by veteran journalist Johann Hari. In it, Hari said he believed the right to criticise any religion was being eroded around the world. The article had first appeared in the London-based Independent.

Peaceful protests were held outside the Statesman's offices at the weekend but by Monday, demonstrations had turned violent, the Independent reported. Angry crowds began blocking roads, attacking police and calling for the arrest of the article's author and the newspaper's publisher and editor. On Monday and Tuesday police used baton charges to try to disperse crowds and more than 70 protesters were arrested.

"The essential ingredient of the law under which we are charged is malicious intent," Ravindra Kumar told Reuters by phone. "But how could we anticipate the protest when the article generated no controversy in Britain, which has substantial Muslim population, after it was carried originally by the Independent?"

Date posted: February 12, 2009Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1697