Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Gopal Italia was arrested Thursday in an Arms Act offence registered against him at the Vidyanagar police station in Anand district. Italia was picked up Wednesday midnight from Surat for inquiry before his arrest next morning.
According to the police, Italia was booked in the context of a live video on Facebook in November. The less than two-minute video, which went viral, shows Italia firing a couple of shots from what he describes as “a pistol made of PVC pipes”. In the video shot in the dark, he is also heard saying: “This is for the explosion as it doesn’t come under the guidelines of the Supreme Court or any other laws” in an apparent reference to the court ban on bursting firecrackers.
A complaint was registered against Italia and an unknown person on Tuesday by a senate member of the SP University in Vidyanagar, Kamlesh Dabhi, following which an FIR was lodged under section 25 (1) (A) of the Arms Act and IPC section 114.
According to the police, Dabhi approached them after he saw the video on January 21.
Talking to Indian Express, Dabhi said, “Whenever I am free I surf videos on the social media platforms, especially by youth leaders, and that is when I came across the profile of Gopal Italia. Then I checked his profile and came across this video posted on November 21. Such videos cause a sense of fear in society and amongst the people. So I filed a police complaint.”
Speaking to The Indian Express earlier about the video, Italia had said, “Some farmers have invented this (‘PVC pistol’) for scaring away animals which destroy their crops. Apart from attacking the BJP I also used the video to send out a message to protect our environment. I believe that it is not as dangerous as other firecrackers. We all should protect our environment.”
Investigating officer JJ Jadeja, meanwhile, said: “We have begun our investigation and now we will find out where this video was exactly shot and who were the other people present there and were a part of the video,” said
Italia, a native of Bhavnagar, worked as a Lok Rakshak jawan in Gujarat Police and as a clerk later in the Revenue Department. In January 2017, he first came to limelight when, despite being a government employee himself, he called up Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and complained about open violation of prohibition policy in the state and alleged collusion of public servants. The conversation had gone viral on social media. Later, in March the same year, Italia caught the attention of the media after he hurled a shoe at Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja outside the Assembly, shouting ‘down with corruption’.