Ahmedabad/Kolkata: The Gujarat Police Tuesday arrested Trinamool Congress’s national spokesperson Saket Gokhale over a tweet endorsing an alleged fake news item about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Morbi after a bridge collapse incident there, sparking outrage from the ruling party of West Bengal.
TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is visiting Rajasthan, condemned the BJP government’s “vindictive attitude”, asserting that Gokhale committed no mistake.
TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, considered number 2 in the party, described the arrest as a reaction of a “panic stricken” BJP.
Gokhale was detained at Jaipur in Rajasthan during the early hours by officials of the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Cell, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Cyber Crime, Jitendra Yadav said.
“Based on a complaint we received from a citizen, an FIR has been lodged against Gokhale for spreading fake news about the PM’s visit to Morbi,” Yadav said.
Gokhale was later arrested and brought to Ahmedabad where a court remanded him to two days’ police custody.
The FIR against him was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 465, 469, 471 (all for forgery) and 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), police said.
Citing the news clipping which he attached in his tweet, Gokhale said, “RTI reveals that Modi’s visit to Morbi for a few hours cost Rs 30 crore…Just Modi’s event management and PR costs more than the lives of 135 innocent people.”
The ACP said, “When we contacted Gujarat Samachar, the management told us this news was never published and it was totally fake and created by someone to look authentic. Thus, we have detained Gokhale for spreading fake news.”
Mamata Banerjee told reporters at Jaipur airport: “It’s a very bad, and sad (incident). Saket (Gokhale) is a bright man. He is very popular on social media. He has made no mistake.”
“I condemn this vindictive attitude. He (Saket) has been arrested because he tweeted against the Prime Minister. People also tweet against me… We are really feeling sorry about the situation,” she said before heading for Pushkar.
The TMC will not bow down to such “acts of intimidation”, said Abhishek Banerjee.
He tweeted: “Fearless, Gokhale stood against the ruling dispensation that trades lives for its own profit. In reaction, panic-stricken @BJP4India got our national spokesperson @SaketGokhale arrested by Gujarat police.”
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien gave the sequence of events leading to Gokhale’s detention and described the case filed with the Ahmedabad Cyber Cell as “cooked up”.
Saket took a 9 pm flight from New Delhi to Jaipur on Monday. When he landed, Gujarat Police was at the airport in Rajasthan waiting for him to pick him up. At 2 am on Tuesday, he called up his mother and told her that he was being taken to Ahmedabad, O’Brien said.
“The (Gujarat) police let him make that two-minute call and then confiscated his phone and all his belongings,” the TMC MP tweeted.