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Our letter was just an appeal, so why this FIR: Benegal

PTI     October 4, 2019

Mumbai, Oct 4 (PTI) Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who is among the 49 celebrities against whom an FIR has been lodged for alleged sedition, on Friday said the case makes "no sense" as their open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi voicing concern over growing incidents of mob lynching was just an appeal and not any threat. The FIR was lodged in Muzaffarpur against the celebrities that also included Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Mani Ratnam, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Soumitra Chatterjee, Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramchandra Guha. Benegal said their letter addressed to Modi in July was just an appeal and not a threat that will disturb peace. "The letter was just an appeal. Whatever the motive of the people, who are accepting the FIR and charging us with all kinds of things, it makes no sense to me. It was a letter appealing to the prime minister. It is not a threat or anything that will cause disturbance of peace or enmity between community," the director told PTI. "It is a question of why it (FIR) was accepted. What is the meaning of it? Is it a threat to the PM or to the government or anyone? There is nothing. It is just an appeal. So why an FIR? What is the meaning of it," he said. The letter had said that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately, while stressing there was "no democracy without dissent". It also noted that the 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan was reduced to a "provocative war cry". When asked about it, Aparna Sen refused to comment saying the matter is "sub-judice". Kerala filmmaker Gopalakrishnan said he is in "total disbelief" after the case of sedition was filed against him and other personalities. "What is happening to us? I heard about this in total disbelief because I cannot imagine any court Admitting a case of sedation against that letter... It is against the spirit of that letter to read it like this. When someone criticises the government it is not sedation. We are living in a democracy," he told NDTV. The FIR was lodged on Thursday under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including those related to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace. PTI KKP SHD ZMN

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