An editor of a Gujarati news website has been charged with sedition and detained for publishing an article suggesting that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani may be replaced by Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya, PTI reported, quoting the police. The article had reportedly claimed that the top leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party were unhappy with Rupani’s management of the coronavirus crisis.
The first information report against Dhaval Patel, who is the editor of Face of Nation, said the article was published on May 7. The article had also said that the BJP high command had called Mandaviya to discuss the change in leadership in Gujarat. However, the Union minister had denied the rumours.
The Ahmedabad Crime Branch registered a FIR on Friday against Patel under Section 124(a) that deals with sedition and the Disaster Management Act. “As a precautionary measure in view of the coronavirus pandemic, Patel has been detained, not arrested and sent to SVP Hospital for Covid-19 test,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police BV Gohil.
Gohil said that the story was published without any proof, claiming that such unfounded news articles led to an atmosphere of instability and fear in the course of fighting the pandemic. When asked if other news organisations that had carried the story have also been booked, Gohil said so far they have charged “only one accused and are probing others”, Deccan Herald reported.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has confirmed 8,541 cases of the coronavirus in Gujarat and 513 patients have died as of Tuesday morning. There have also been 2,780 recoveries.
Last week, Rupani had asked the Centre to send experts to the state to guide doctors tackling the infections. Following this, All India Institute of Medical Sciences chief Dr Randeep Guleria had rushed to Gujarat.