Social media posts against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to light diyas, candles, torches or mobile flashlights last Sunday— in a bid to show solidarity in view of the COVID-19 pandemic— proved costly for a junior assistant employed at the Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Limited (GETCO), promoted by the Gujarat government. Following a few posts on his social media accounts, GETCO authorities suspended the official for ‘instigating’ and ‘inciting’ staffers against the PM’s call by spreading ‘misleading’ and ‘incorrect’ messages.
Parmar was given a suspension order on April 8. The order reads, “Anil R Parmar…is found to have incited and instigated staff and people against the call of Prime Minister and spread incorrect and misleading social media messages through ‘WhatsApp’ and ‘Facebook’. He has done this in the extremely crucial times of pandemic of COVID-19. This is gross indiscipline as per the rules of the Company and is liable for disciplinary actions (sic).”
Following the suspension, Parmar – who was posted in Mehsana town – has now been transferred to Vadavi Transmission Division in Gandhinagar district.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Parmar said that none of the posts on his Facebook or WhatsApp accounts were circulated by him. He said that the cellphone from which the posts were made, is kept at home and used by his family. The posts were made by his son who was using the phone, Parmar added. His son is a final year engineering student.
Parmar further said that he did not agree with the posts himself and rather, completely supported the PM’S call.
One of the posts asked people to rely on medical science, while adding that coronavirus would not go away by lighting diyas, candles or mobile flashlights. In another post, ‘Parmar’ said that he would not partake in the activity and not spread superstition.
Notably, Parmar is the zonal secretary of an employees’ union of electricity companies in Gujarat, Akhil Gujarat Vidhyut Kamdar Sangh. He said that a rival union of employees had complained against him regarding the posts that had resulted in his suspension. “The company did not give me any notice before handing over the suspension letter and I am going to challenge it (before the appellate authority),” he said.
Additional Chief Engineer of GETCO’s Mehsana zone, VG Padarkar said, “We have suspended him following his posts on social media. An inquiry has been constituted in the episode by an executive engineer.”