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Jignesh Mevani: ‘No Protocol of Arresting Elected MLA was Followed’

The Assam Police brazenly entered the circuit house late at night and seized the dalit leader’s mobile, say his co-activists. His organisation RDAM still doesn’t have FIR copy.
Mevani After Arrest

Mevani After Arrest

There is widespread outrage over the manner in which Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani was arrested by the Assam Police from Palanpur circuit house, Banaskantha district at 11.30 in the night on April 21. After the arrest the Dalit leader was brought to Ahmedabad in a police vehicle and flown to Assam.

Activists have questioned the arrest saying that no protocol was followed.

The dalit leader’s arrest was done after a complaint by Arup Dey, an executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council and Member of Council Legislative Assembly (MCLA) in Bodoland Territorial Council. The complaint was regarding a tweet by Mevani on April 18 ahead of Prime Minister Narendr Modi’s visit to his home state Gujarat.

In his tweet Mevani wrote: “Godse ko apna aradhya manne wale pradhanmantri Narendra Modi 20 tarikh se Gujarat daure pe hai, unse appeal hai ki Gujarat me Himmatnagar, Khambat aur Veraval me jo kaumi hadse huye hai uske khilaf shanti aur aman ka appeak kare. Mahatma mandir ke nirmata se itni ummid to banti hai.” (PM Narendra Modi who worships Godse is set to visit Gujarat from 20th. I appeal to him to appeal for peace and brotherhood in Himmatnagar, Khambat and Veraval that recently saw communal tension. I hope this much can be expected of someone who built Mahatma Mandir).

The complaint by Dey filed on April 19 at Kokrajhar police station read, “… The circulation of the tweet published in Twitter has caused widespread criticism and has the propensity to disturb public tranquillity, prejudicial to maintenance of harmony among certain section of people. It is more likely to incite a section of masses belonging to certain community to commit offence against other community and as such has tendency to destroy the social fabric of different communities residing in this part of the country… So it is humbly requested to take legal action as per law.”

The FIR was filed under sections 120(B), 153(B), 295(A), 504, 505(a)(b)(c)(2) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 66 of IT Act on direction of Surjeet Singh Panesar, Superintendent of Police, Kokrajhar.

Notably, the Gujarat police had searched the premises of Mevani’s family home in Ahmedabad, office of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (RDAM), a dalit rights organisation floated by Mevani after the Una flogging case, his MLA quarters and homes of his team members since the morning of April 21.

“We were told police had four addresses that they were ordered to search. On the morning of April 21, personnel from Ahmedabad Crime Branch visited the office of RDAM in Rakhiyal, Ahmedabad and seized the desktop and its CPU. They also visited home of Kamlesh Katariya in Rakhial, Ahmedabad who is member of RDAM and Mevani’s assistant in the organisation. His mobile was seized by the police. Police then visited Mevani’s MLA quarters and seized two desktops, CPUs, some posters and mobile phones of two of his associates. The same day evening, the police visited residence of Satish, Mevani’s personal assistant in Palanpur. But Satish was not at home so police seized his parents’ mobile phones. They also visited Mevani’s family home in Meghaninagar, Ahmedabad and confiscated some files in presence of his father. Mobile was also seized from Jagdish Chavda, another team member of RDAM who resides near Mevani’s home in Ahmedabad,” Subodh Parmar, an advocate and a member of RDAM told  NewsClick.

“No protocol of arresting an elected MLA was followed by the Assam police. They brazenly entered the circuit house late in the night and seized Mevani’s mobile and told him there was an FIR against him and they had come to arrest him. Only after protests at Ahmedabad airport, a copy of complaint was given to us but moment before they boarded the plane. We still don’t have a copy of the FIR. Mevani was not even allowed to speak to his family until the afternoon of April 11,” added Parmar.

Protest against Mevani Arrest

“I had appealed for peace. I was not informed beforehand or provided with a copy of the FIR. I don’t know under what sections I am being arrested. I am not being allowed to call and inform my family. All I know is that an ASP from Assam has been sent to arrest me,” Mevani said just before he was whisked away by Assam police.

Mevani was taken to Kokrajhar district in Assam and was produced before a local court later where his bail plea was rejected and police was granted three days of remand. His team said the Congress legal team representing him shall appeal before Assam high Court on April 25 (Monday).

Meanwhile, Mevani’s Twitter account showed that some of his recent tweets had been “withheld in India in response to a legal demand”.

Mevani won from Vadgam constituency in 2017 state election and became the only Independent MLA in the Gujarat Assembly. An ex-journalist, lawyer and a dalit leader, Mevani rose to prominence after the Una flogging incident in 2016 when he led a protest rally from Ahmedabad to Una. As a result of the rally, Gujarat witnessed a massive dalit movement across the state forcing then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to resign.  Mevani, one of the most vociferous anti BJP voice of Gujarat was once associated with the Aam Aadmi Party and then he floated a dalit rights outfit, RDAM.

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