Aakar Patel arrested, then bailed for three tweets on Modi, BJP-RSS & Ghanchi Caste: Gujarat

Patel says the state has become intolerant of dissent. He has been asked to hand over the devices used to post the tweets in question.

Image Courtesy:thewire.in

Aakar Patel, well known columnist and former executive director of Amnesty International India, has stated on Twitter that he was arrested and then let out on bail earlier this week for allegedly posting “offensive” tweets against the Ghanchi community in Gujarat. It was the  Surat City police registered an FIR against Patel, filed by Purnesh Modi, a ruling Bhartiya Janata Party MLA from Surat West constituency and president of the Samast Gujarati Modhvanik Samaj.


The criminal complaint-FIR- registered on July 7 states that on June 24 and June 27, Patel had posted three tweets that were objectionable and against the community. Patel has been booked under Sections 153 A, 295 A, 505 (1) B, 505 (1) C, 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. Most of these sections are non-bailable. The complainant has listed three tweets posted by Patel. In the first two tweets, Patel mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi belonged to the Ghanchi caste, which was added to the Other Backward Caste list in 1999 by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime. Patel goes on to say that the community is “well-off” and is “meat-eating” and that Modi has taken on the manner of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and has turned vegetarian.

In another tweet that followed, Patel has alleged that those involved in the 2002 Sabarmati train carnage belonged to the Muslim Ganchi community.

On June 27, in this third tweet, Patel wrote, “The RSS and BJP always profit by the violence against other Indians, especially Muslims. Vajpayee more than Upadhyaya, Advani more than Vajpayee and Modi more than Advani benefitted from this. We have to stop this cycle of violence and blood profit by the RSS and BJP.”

Ghanchi Caste: Background

Patel’s claim that the crowd involved in the Godhra train fire of 2002 comprised Ghanchi Muslims is not something new, it has been reported widely in the media before. It is also unclear what offence the police believe his first tweet has caused, even though there was a factual inaccuracy.

The Surat police on September 21 recorded Patel’s statement and has now asked for the devices used to tweet to be handed over to the police. Patel says he will soon be handing them over soon.

Although this is not the first time that a criminal case has been registered against the columnist for his vocal stand against the current dispensation, he told the media that he was surprised when he was informed about the FIR. “I was surprised it was filed. The tweets are factual,” he responded in an email. Patel says he will defend himself and will be weighing his options to see if the FIR can be quashed.

In the past sixweeks, Patel has been informed of at least two police cases against him and he says both of them were registered in BJP-ruled states. “The state has become quite intolerant of dissent. This (the tweets) is not an original observation and is not a new phenomenon. What is new is the extreme to which it is taken, especially at a time when the government ought really to be focussed on its work,” Patel shared.

While Patel has been individually targeted, in the past, when he was associated with Amnesty International India, both he and the organisation had been targeted several times by both the state and central machinery. “There are other cases (I have lost count of the number) related to the organisation (Amnesty International India) I was working for until last year, which continues to be harassed through the (Central Bureau of Investigation) CBI, Enforcement Directorate and (Ministry of Home Affairs) MHA and through cases like sedition filed by the (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad) ABVP,” Patel alleges.

In 2002, Aakar Patel, along with Dilip Padgaonkar and BG Verghese had authored the Editor’s Guild report on media coverage of 2002, Rights and Wrongs. The report had meticulously documented what had gone wrong within the media coverage (build up and fall out) of the communal carnage, also highlighting individual efforts that stood out for fair reporting upholding the ethics of the profession.



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