On Wednesday, last week, a man was arrested by Ashok Nagar police on charges of disrespecting the National Anthem. He was booked under the Prevention of Insult to National honours Act, 1971.
TLI spoke to the man, Jithin, accused in the controversy and he had a different story to tell.
“I was Assaulted”
“I was sitting down (when the National Anthem was being played) and was quiet. A person standing in front of me looked back. The guy turns to me and in a ‘threatening, and rude manner’ orders me to stand up! So naturally, I don’t take an insult to personal life, especially when I’m provoked. In a derogatory manner, I did ask him to sit down and mind his own business.”
He adds that “As I responded to him and his two friends, they come over to me, right up in front of me, huddle around and harass me. And at one point he comes forward and punches me in the face. I don’t do anything…I’m provoked by the way. They were the ones who were shouting and stopped the screening…”
Following the verbal duel, the matter soon intensified. Jithin says a mob of over ten people surrounded him, and some were even shouting death threats. He adds that he stood his ground for his safety.
After this, Jithin willfully walked to the police station, and an FIR was filed against him by the theatre management. He was booked under sedition charges. And mentions that he didn’t get a chance to file a report against the guy who punched him and that guy walked free.
“Reports About Me Distorted”
Jithin added that his point of view in the matter had been completely neglected.
He says that “Reports about me have been a distortion of truth, a factual inaccuracy of the whole situation. The sad part is that the other guy’s story (the other party who was engaged in the fight) has been accounted for, he punched me.”
On asked if he said anything derogatory about the National Anthem in the feud that ensued at the theatre on that day, he answered, “No…no..nothing in a vicious manner.”
National Anthem Before Movies is Insulting
Jithin stands by what he did.
“I’ve looked up the law, and I am allowed to sit down. It’s not about thinking whether to stand up or sit down, I’ve never stood up. I’m well within my legal rights to sit down. Others can do what they want.”
Jithin also asserts that standing up to anthem before movies are not akin to Nationalism. “Personally, I think it’s insulting that the national anthem is placed in a commercial set up before a movie. Commodifying National Identity for profit, corporate enforced fascism.”
“Play national anthem at the theatre and forcing people to stand up is a disgrace. An absolute insult to what the national anthem stands for,” Jithin say
Jithin is now actively responding to hate-tweets on twitter and tried to reach out to the news platforms that have reported on this story.
Police: Investigation Pending
Jithin says he was released and the charges have been dropped since he hadn’t done anything wrong. He maintains that the charges were false and his safety was threatened.
“I’m a victim, and I get treated unfairly. Now I’m smeared online for being the bad guy.”
TLI also contacted the police in the matter, and they maintain that Jithin was arrested for disrespecting the National Anthem and was later released on bail. They refused to reveal further details and said that an investigation is ongoing.
Jithin says he is now engaged in the process of gathering evidence to corroborate his version of the story and remarked he “never wanted any of this.”