Gujarat: Article over CM Rupani's replacement lands news-editor in soup
The Gujarat Police has detained the editor of a Gujarati news website for allegedly suggesting in a news item that CM Vijay Rupani may be removed from his post. The editor, who was booked for sedition, suggested that Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya would replace CM Rupani as top BJP leaders were unhappy with the latter's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Here are more details.
The first information report (FIR) against the news editor, Dhaval Patel, was registered by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch. He was booked under Section 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 54 (punishment for false warning) of the Disaster Management Act. According to the police, Patel is the editor and owner of a Gujarati news portal called Face of Nation.
"As a precautionary measure in view of the coronavirus pandemic, Patel has been detained, not arrested, and sent to SVP Hospital for COVID-19 test," said Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) of DCB Ahmedabad, BV Gohil. He was detained from his residence in Ahmedabad.
The article in question -titled "Mansukh Mandaviya called by high command, chances of leadership change in Gujarat"- was published on May 7. In that speculative story, Patel wrote a change of guard in Gujarat was likely because of Rupani's "failure" in managing the COVID-19 crisis. He also claimed Mandaviya, a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, was summoned by BJP's high-command to discuss Rupani's replacement.
In the news article, Patel suggested a possible leadership change in Gujarat over criticism due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the state. After Patel's report was published, several other local publications also carried similar stories. Subsequently, Mandaviya issued a clarification that the Rupani government is dealing strongly with the COVID-19 situation, adding that the Chief Minister was not being replaced.
"An attempt to create unrest in the state and society was made through a message on the web portal... A preliminary investigation was conducted by Crime Branch, and after that, the editor was booked and detained," ACP Gohil said.