Several Gandhians and civil rights activists showed up in strength at Sabarmati Ashram on Wednesday to protest against the sedition charges brought against The Times of India by Ahmedabad police commissioner O P Mathur.
Journalists in Ahmedabad, Surat and other cities have been protesting since Mathur filed a series of sedition charges and defamation for articles that appeared in the newspaper about his ability to guarantee safety of residents in the light of serious terror threats.
On Wednesday, the Ahmedabad high court also admitted a plea by TOI for quashing the charges. At the protests, members of Gandhi Sena, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), Janpath, Students Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Kisan Sangathan, Satyajeet Trust and All India Democratic Students Organisation demanded the charges be dropped.
"We are against the charges of sedition filed by the commissioner against TOI journalists. This, if encouraged, will become the order of the day for the government and can gag anyone who believes in free expression in a democratic society like ours," said Digant Oza, an activist of Satyajeet Trust.
Journalists in north Gujarat cities of Mehsana, Patan and Palanpur also organized protest meetings and submitted petitions to Mehsana's district collector Ajay Bhadu and Patan district collector Vinod Rao criticizing the police officer's action.
Similarly, editors, reporters, photographers and several residents of Mehsana held a protest meeting.