Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani was re-arrested in a fresh case yesterday, barely hours after an Assam court granted him bail, in a case involving tweets against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the current case against him, Mevani has been accused of “assaulting and outraging” the modesty of a female police officer. He was arrested by the police from Assam’s Barpeta, who accused him of willfully inflicting harm and obstructing a government officer’s job, under provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
Mevani was originally apprehended by an Assam Police squad in Gujarat’s Palanpur, on Thursday, after a local BJP leader in Assam’s Kokrajhar lodged a complaint against him. The Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch convener, an outspoken opponent of PM Modi, has described his detention as “vendetta politics by the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office)”.
“It is a conspiracy by the BJP and the RSS. They did this to tarnish my image. They have been doing this systematically. They did it to Rohit Vemula, they did it to Chandrasekhar Azad, now they are targeting me,” Mevani told reporters.
The 41-year-old has been charged with criminal conspiracy, trespassing near a place of worship, inciting religious fervour, and provocation that might lead to breach of peace. In his complaint, BJP leader Arup Kumar Dey has alleged that Mevani’s tweets are “likely to incite a section of the masses belonging to a certain community”.
Dey claimed in an interview with NDTV that Mevani has been “trying to divide people by his postings and usually speaks adversely about Prime Minister Modi”. “We are lucky to have Modi ji as our Prime Minister and Mevani is trying to link his name with the recent (incidents of) violence. Is Prime Minister Modi responsible for that? He says Godse is Prime Minister Modi’s God, what proof does he have?” he said.
The Congress has alleged that the arrest was made within 24 hours of the complaint, with an eye on the coming assembly election in Gujarat, a state the BJP has been in power in since 1995. “Modi ji, you can try to crush dissent by abusing the state machinery. But you can never imprison the truth,” tweeted the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi. Mevani’s lawyer, Angshuman Bora, informed the Hindustan Times that the bail had been granted in connection with the Kokrajhar case, however, a separate case has been filed in the Barpeta district, where he may be detained again.
The BJP has been chastised by the Congress and other opposition parties for arresting Mevani. “In a supposedly free country, which the Modi government repeatedly says that we are committed to democratic values, we are part three of the Constitution, we have fundamental rights, you (Jignesh Mevani) are picked up in Gujarat for a tweet on the Prime Minister, by the Assam police without serving any documents..,” stated Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.