The Human Rights Forum has strongly condemned the externment of controversial film critic Kathi Mahesh from Hyderabad city for six months and demanded that the Telangana government direct its police to withdraw the prohibitory orders issued against him respecting the Constitution.

“The externment order passed by Commissioner of Police expelling Mahesh from Hyderabad is highly objectionable. The law that is meant for hooligans and bootleggers is used against the film critic. He never incited any mob to hurt the feelings of any religious group,” said Gorrepati Madhava Rao, president of State HRF committee.

“In fact, it’s the apologists and protagonists of Hindutva brand politics and self-styled
who are inciting mobs to carry out physical attacks on Mahesh,” he said, adding that the Commissioner, in his orders, described his participation in a TV debate as equivalent to an act of a goonda, which was incorrect.

In essence, the police branded a film critic a goonda. The police, for no reason, felt that the opinions of Mr. Mahesh in the debate attracted Section 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code and registered a criminal case against him at Banjara Hills police station. However, he was not proved guilty in any court in an impartial trial, said the leading lawyer in a statement issued here on Wednesday.

Mr. Madhava Rao said police decided to extern Mr. Mahesh without even examining a single witness. In the externment order, they said not a single person in Hyderabad came forward to give evidence against Mr. Mahesh. Then on what basis did the police conclude that his presence in Hyderabad posed threat to the members of different groups? he questioned.

The act of police in expelling Mr. Mahesh from Hyderabad was “uncalled for and unconstitutional”. The externment order infringes on his constitutional rights, said the HRF leader. He also added that police, in a bid to suppress the voice of a critic, encouraged the Hindutva forces. The externment orders gave courage to those who were brazenly inciting violence, he said.

The government should direct police to withdraw prohibitory orders issued against Kathi Mahesh.

Gorrepati Madhava Rao

President, State HRF committee

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