Filmmaker Avinash Das was arrested on Wednesday, a day after he was detained by the Gujarat Police from Mumbai, for sharing a photo of Union Home Minister Amit Shah with suspended Indian Administrative Service officer Pooja Singhal, reported The Indian Express.
The photo of Shah and Singhal shared by Das on May 8, was taken in 2017 at an event in Ranchi. The police have alleged that the filmmaker shared the photo to defame the home minister and mislead citizens.
According to the first information report, Das claimed in a caption that the photo had been taken a few days before the suspended IAS officer’s arrest, although it had been clicked in 2017. Singhal, a former mining department secretary of Jharkhand, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on May 12 in an alleged money laundering case.
Das has also been booked for allegedly insulting the national flag by posting a morphed photo on Facebook of a woman dressed in the tricolour. He had posted the photo on March 17.
On Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Chaitanya Mandlik alleged that Das has a history of putting up fake posts on social media.
“He had posted a picture on social media where people were lying on the ground during the Covid-19 pandemic with the caption, ‘somewhere in Gujarat’,” Mandlik told reporters. “However, the picture was of some other place. Likewise, he has posted many fake photos...We have also found a post where he described Hindu gods and goddesses in an obscene manner.”
On the Facebook post showing a woman dressed in the national flag, Mandlik said that it was the duty of every Indian citizen to respect the tricolour.
The police have been granted Das’ custody till 3 pm on Thursday. The filmmaker’s lawyer has said he would file a bail plea.
Last month, Das had moved the Gujarat High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the matter. However, the High Court rejected his petition on June 27, observing that he had prima facie violated the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.
On July 15, Das moved the Supreme Court challenging the High Court order.
The 46-year-old filmmaker was raised in Patna. Das has previously worked as a journalist at the Dainik Bhaskar and Prabhat Khabar newspapers and the NDTV television network. He made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed Anaarkali of Aarah in 2017. Das was also the co-director of the first season of the Netflix series She.