Imran Masood, Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Saharanpur, was sent to jail by a court for 14 days after he was arrested before dawn Saturday for a hate speech in which he allegedly threatened to “chop” BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi “into pieces”.
With Masood’s remarks prompting an angry BJP to take up the matter with the Election Commission, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi condemned the remarks, saying “the words he used against one of the Opposition leaders is not our ideology”. Police arrested Masood from his house in Saharanpur and brought him to Deoband where he was produced in court. He has been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code, SC/ST Act and the Representation of People Act.
As he was being led into a police vehicle, Masood told reporters: “Modi ke liye jail jaoonga (I will go to jail over Modi).”
Prosecution officer Ajay Kumar Mishra said Masood would be lodged in Saharanpur Jail.
“The court allowed the request made by the investigating officer to send Imran Masood to Saharanpur jail, instead of the sub-jail in Deoband. The prosecution’s plea was that his presence in the sub-jail could create fresh trouble,” Mishra said.
A A Siddiqui, who appeared as defence lawyer, told reporters that the charges against Masood were “baseless”. He said the video which contains the alleged hate speech is about eight months old. He said one person seen in the video died a few months ago.
Mishra said the prosecution was not convinced. “We told the court that it is a matter of investigation,” he said. The court rejected Masood’s bail plea and sent him to judicial custody for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi went ahead with a scheduled rally at Saharanpur though the party had initially said he had cancelled it in the wake of Masood’s arrest.
At back-to-back rallies in Ghaziabad and Saharanpur, Gandhi did not name Masood but disapproved of the remarks.
“Some months ago, the local candidate used harsh words about the Opposition. This is not the Congress way… Hindustan kathor shabdon ka prayog nahin karta (India does not use harsh words)… We want to people to live in harmony… Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians must all live in harmony,” Gandhi said, adding “riots are the work of the Opposition, they make you fight each other… we have to fight the politics of anger”.