Updated: May 17, 2021 12:17:03 am
The Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday took ownership of having put posters with comments critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Covid vaccination drive, and said if anyone had to be arrested, it should be party leaders and MLAs, instead of people who are pasting them.
As reported by The Indian Express, 27 people have been arrested, including daily wage workers, rickshaw drivers and, most recently, two AAP workers.
During a press conference on Sunday, AAP leader Durgesh Pathak said, “Ye posters Aam Aadmi Party ne lagvaye hain, ye poster maine lagvaye hain (these posters have been put up by AAP, they have been put up by me). If you have to arrest someone, arrest me, arrest our MLAs. Don’t go after the poor people who paste these posters for Rs 100-200. We will not stop. We will paste these posters everywhere across the country. If you have to arrest someone, arrest us,” said Pathak, also the party’s MCD in-charge.
The Indian Express had first reported on Friday that the Delhi Police had arrested several people and registered FIRs in police stations across the capital over the posters that read: “Modi ji hamare bachon ki vaccine videsh kyon bhej diya (Why did you send our children’s vaccines abroad?)”.
The Congress and its top leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, also made the same message their social media handle profile photos, and dared the police to arrest them. Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh plastered posters asking the Prime Minister “why did you export the vaccines meant for our children” on the compound wall of his official residence.
“Arrest me too,” Rahul tweeted while sharing a photo with the same message.
Former Union Minister P Chidambaram tweeted: “Celebrate, India is a free country. There is freedom of speech. Except, when you ask a question of the Honourable Prime Minister… That is why the Delhi Police arrested 24 persons for allegedly pasting a poster in Delhi. The poster asked a simple question of the PM: why did you export the vaccines meant for our children? Even before the PM could answer, the loyal Delhi Police answered with ARREST. Celebrate, India is a free country!”
Senior leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the arrest indicates “lawless state gone amuck”.
During an AICC press conference, spokesperson Pawan Khera displayed the poster and alleged that people are dying not because of Covid but because of mismanagement of the pandemic by the government.
“Narendra Modi wanted to be known as a ‘Vaccine Guru’. Entire world is asking these questions, tough questions. Every single Indian is asking tough questions, questions that need answers, answers that only one man can give because that one man insisted on being in the driver seat,” he said.
Several AAP MLAs and senior party leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, also tweeted on the issue.
“A government that was boasting about posters put up in foreign countries is now scared of posters put up in their land,” he tweeted.
Posters thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come up in Canada last month after the country received vaccines from India.
Asking why people were being arrested for asking questions, Pathak said: “Today, when people are asking why crores of vaccines were exported to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Iraq, Modi ji’s Delhi Police is filing FIRs and putting our workers in jail… every morning, 500-550 workers are called to the police station and are made to sit in thanas till night. What is their fault? Is it that they questioned Modi ji? They asked him why he sent vaccines meant for our children to other countries. I want to tell Delhi Police and BJP — you cannot arrest us for asking these questions. We live in a democracy.”
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