Saket Gokhale, a spokesperson of the Trinamool Congress, was detained on Monday in Rajasthan’s Jaipur by the Gujarat Police for a tweet he posted about the Morbi bridge collapse, reported PTI.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime) Jitendra Yadav said that Gokhale was arrested for spreading fake news through his tweet. He is being brought to Ahmedabad, Yadav said, adding that Gokhale will be formally arrested after a coronavirus test.
On December 1, Gokhale had shared a news clipping about a purported Right to Information application which claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Morbi after the bridge collapse cost Rs 30 crore.
However, on Tuesday morning, the Press Information Bureau tweeted a fact check saying that the information was fake.
The news clipping appeared to be from local newspaper Gujarat Samachar, according to PTI.
“When we contacted Gujarat Samachar, the management told us this news was never published and it was totally fake and created by someone to look authentic,” Jadhav said.
The prime minister had visited the Gujarat city on November 1, a day after a colonial-era suspension bridge on the Machchu river collapsed, leaving 141 people dead.
The first information report against Gokhale has been filed on charges of forgery and printing defamatory content, the police said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Gokhale had made no mistake and that he had been arrested due to the “vindictive attitude” of the BJP. She described Gokhale as a “very bright man” and said that he is very popular on social media.
“The police took him into custody because he posted a tweet against the prime minister,” Banerjee said. “So many people post tweets against me...We are really sorry for this.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, in a series of tweets, said that Gokhale was detained in Jaipur after he landed in the Rajasthan capital on Monday night.
“When he landed, Gujarat Police was at the airport in Rajasthan waiting for him [Gokhale],” he wrote. “At 2 in the morning on Tuesday, he called his ma and told her that they are taking him to Ahmedabad and he would reach Ahmedabad by noon today.”
O’Brien claimed that the police confiscated Gokhale’s phone and other belongings after allowing him to call his mother. He added that a “cooked up case” has been filed against Gokhale by the Ahmedabad Police cyber cell after the spokesperson tweeted about the bridge collapse accident.
He said the action against Gokhale cannot silence the Trinamool Congress and the Opposition parties. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rajya Sabha MP said, is taking political vendetta to another level.
Opposition on Modi’s Morbi visit
Besides Saket, the Opposition parties had criticised Modi’s visit to Morbi, calling it a photoshoot for the prime minister.
The parties had slammed the Centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party too, especially after the visuals emerged showing that the Morbi civil hospital was being renovated just ahead of the prime minister’s visit.
The Congress had called the makeover shameful, saying that while so many have died in the accident, the BJP was busy with event management.