The Assam Police have charged the editor and co-owner of a local news portal in the Barak Valley with sedition for a November 28 editorial deemed to promote enmity between the Assamese and Bengali-speaking people of the State. The Barak Valley is dominated by Bengalis and the Brahmaputra Valley by the Assamese speakers.
Anirban Roy Choudhury was charged under 124A (sedition) and other Sections of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of a First Information Report filed by Santanu Sutradhar, a Silchar-based businessman and member of the All Assam Bengali Hindu Association, on December 2.
The other Sections include 501 for “printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory” and 153-A for “promoting enmity between different groups”.
The editorial that the complainant found objectionable was titled “Welcome to the Paradise of the Spineless — We are Assamese”.
It was published after a former BJP leader and Gauhati High Court advocate Pradip Dutta Roy was also charged with sedition and arrested in Silchar on November 27.
Mr. Roy had objected to the use of only Assamese language in a hoarding on a Government scheme, pointing out it should have been in Bengali, the official language of the Barak Valley under the Assam Official Language (Amendment) Act, 1961.
The hoarding was taken down and replaced with another displaying slogans and information in both Assamese and Bengali.
“The police came home to deliver the summons yesterday [on Saturday]. I have been told to appear at the Silchar Sadar police station at 11 a.m. on Monday,” Mr. Choudhury told The Hindu .
‘Nothing but harassment’
“This is nothing but harassment for a fairly innocuous editorial. But I knew this could happen as we are the only publication, online or print, that is critical on issues concerning the Barak Valley and its people,” he added.
Mr. Roy, sent to judicial custody till December 10, is undergoing treatment at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital for a liver ailment, officials said.