A day after an Ahmedabad-based editor of a Gujarati news portal was booked for sedition and detained for allegedly publishing a report suggesting leadership change in Gujarat, the police are yet to formally arrest him as, according to officials, he is being tested for Covid-19.
“We are yet to arrest the editor as his COVID-19 test results are awaited. We will question him regarding his source in the story once his tests are completed,” said BV Gohil, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad DCB on Tuesday.
Dhaval Patel, editor and owner of news portal ‘Face of Nation’, was detained from his residence at Science City road in Ahmedabad on Monday for allegedly writing and publishing a report on his portal on May 7 titled “Mansukh Mandaviya called by high command, chances of leadership change in Gujarat.”
The report had suggested that the chief minister’s position in Gujarat might be given to Mansukh Mandaviya, who is the Union Minister of State for Shipping (independent charge) and Chemicals and Fertilisers and a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, amid criticism over rising Covid-19 cases in Gujarat.
Patel was booked under Indian Penal Code Section 124 A for sedition and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act (punishment for false warning) by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) for “trying to create unrest in society”.
According to police, Patel was detained by a team of Ahmedabad DCB and then sent to SVP Hospital in Ahmedabad on Monday afternoon for COVID-19 test. However, even 24 hours after his detention, Patel has not been arrested yet and he is still at the hospital.
Meanwhile, former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela spoke in support of Patel, seeking relief from the Gujarat government in the case.
“It is not as if the chief minister of the state is going to change after a story. And if that’s the case then Subramanian Swamy had also written similar stuff and he should also be arrested. I request the state government to not prosecute the journalist with criminal charges. We must respect media as the fourth pillar of democracy,” said Vaghela.
Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Amit Chavda slammed the ruling BJP and Gujarat Police on the sedition case against Patel. Chavda on Twitter posted a screenshot of a tweet by Subramanian Swamy which had stated on May 8 that “Gujarat can be stabilised for coronavirus casualty numbers only if Anandiben Patel returns as CM.”
“Will Pradipsinh Jadeja (state home minister) and Gujarat Director General of Police book a case against Swamy when they have booked a Gujarati news portal editor for sedition for writing a news that Vijay Rupani might be replaced with Mansukh Mandaviya ? (sic),” tweeted Chavda.
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