Shimla, Oct 11 (UNI) Terming the lodging of sedition charges against three mediapersons ''dictatorial and fascist'' designs of the present state Congress Government, the Himachal Pradesh BJP today demanded the withdrawal of the cases.
''Even the Britishers had not lodged sedition cases against mediapersons so blatantly during the freedom movement,'' party's state in charge Satpal Jain told a press conference here.
Sedition cases were registered against the editor, bureau chief and the reporter of a Hindi daily following the publication of a story, which claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's proposed Shimla rally on September 30 had been called off following threat to his life.
Mr Jain demanded that the state government, besides withdrawing sedition charges against the mediapersons, should tender an unqualified apology to the media fraternity for its act.
Recalling the gagging of Press during imposition of the emergency by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1977, he said she had to take back the move and even faced defeat in the next parliamentary elections.
''The state government should take lesson from that incident and take back the cases,'' he asserted.
The BJP on its part, he said, has decided to offer free legal aid to mediapersons against whom cases have been registered by the state Government.
The BJP leader said the party would take back all cases against the mediapersons after coming to power in the state.
Replying to a question on the Election Commission holding state assembly elections much before the tenure of the present government comes to an end, he observed that the maximum tenure of a government was five years and elections within the period were fully justified.