Senior Congress leader Pawan Khera was arrested by Assam police at Delhi Airport as an FIR was lodged against him for his comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was de-boarded from his flight to Raipur.
In a session with the media he referred to the PM as “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” while demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee over the Hindenburg report revealing frauds committed by industrialist Gautam Adani. Initially he mistakenly referred to him as “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” but later said, “PM’s name may be Narendra Damodardas Modi, but is surely acting like Narendra “Gautamdas” Modi.” Outlets like the ANI played up this comment misconstruing it as an “insult to the Prime Minister’s father.” Senior public functionaries even spoke of it at political rallies around the recently conducted state assembly elections!
.@Pawankhera said nothing wrong,
PM’s name maybe Narendra Damodardas Modi, but is surely acting like Narendra “Gautamdas” Modi.
— Saral Patel (@SaralPatel) February 23, 2023
The FIR has been filed by one Samuel Changsan at Haflong Police Station, Dima Hasao.
Over these comments, an FIR was lodged and he was asked to de-board his flight. He was accompanied by other Congress workers who sat on the tarmac and raised slogans such as “We will not accept Modi’s dictatorial behaviour”. Many Congress leaders took to social media calling this undemocratic. Supriya Shrinate, national spokesperson of Congress questioned what crime has Khera committed that he is being arrested for.
पवन खेड़ा जी को असम पुलिस गिरफ्तार करके ले जा रही है।
उन्होंने कौन सा ऐसा जुर्म किया है कि उन्हें गिरफ्तार किया गया?
ये तानाशाही नहीं तो और क्या है?
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 23, 2023
Meanwhile Congress approached the Supreme Court and sought an urgent hearing. The hearing was before a bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud. The court agreed to club the FIRs against him and CJI said, “We also accept that taken on their face value the spoken words do not lead to the sections invoked in the FIR. Hence, we order: issue notice on the prayer to transfer and club all FIRs registered against Khera”. The court directed a Dwarka court to grant interim bail to Khera.
Khera’s arrest is one among a string of arrests made over past years where BJP-ruled governments have deputed their police outfits to other states, effected arrests with our without informing local jurisdictional police stations as is required under the law. Jignesh Mewani, an elected MLA from Gujarat was similar whisked away from Palanpur by the Assam police in 2022. The forcible detention of human rights defender and secretary, Citizens for Justice & Peace (CJP), Teesta Setalvad, from her residence in Mumbai on June 25, 2022 was conducted in a similar high-handed fashion by a team of the Gujarat ATS. Md Zubair also faced arrest from the Uttar Pradesh police in a similar fashion. TMC’s Saket Gokhale too languishes in a Gujarat jail as PMLA cases against him are pending.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia was unrepentant about the undemocratic methods used. He told the media, as a warning to Congress, “Whatever is done is done lawfully. Congress leaders should not live under this misconception that they are above the law”.