AHMEDABAD/JAIPUR: Gujarat Police arrested Trinamool Congress spokesman Saket Gokhale early on Tuesday for posting alleged fake news on Twitter that said Rs 30 crore was spent on PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Morbi town after its British-era suspension bridge collapsed and killed 135 people on October 30.
A team of Gujarat Police’s cybercrime unit detained Gokhale around 2am outside Jaipur airport in Rajasthan, after he arrived on a flight from Delhi. He was taken to Ahmedabad, where he was formally arrested.
Gokhale was produced before a city court and was remanded in police custody till Thursday noon.
Police were acting on a complaint by Ahmedabad-based BJP worker Amit Kothari on December 1. He complained that he saw Gokhale’s tweet which said, “RTI reveals that Modi’s visit to Morbi for a few hours cost ₹30 cr. Of this, ₹ 5.5cr was purely for ‘welcome, event management, & photography’. 135 victims who died got ₹4 lac ex-gratia each i.e. ₹5 cr. Just Modi’s event management & PR costs more than life of 135 people (sic).”
Kothari stated in the FIR that another person named Dax Patel had also posted a news clipping saying Rs 3 crore was spent on Modi’s visit to Morbi on November 1. Officers said Patel is either on the run or someone had used the name to create a proxy Twitter account.
He said he verified with a Gujarati newspaper and found that no such news report had been published. Kothari said he checked with the district collector’s office and found that no such RTI application was filed either.
The FIR was registered under IPC Sections 469 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged material), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 505B (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes).
Trinamool chief and Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee defended Gokhale, saying he had made no mistake, but only highlighted the Morbi bridge collapse and the PM’s expensive visit through a tweet.
Calling Gokhale a “bright man” and his arrest a “sad, sad, incident”, Banerjee said she “condemns this vindictive attitude”. “He has been arrested because he tweeted against the PM. People tweet against me too... We are really feeling sorry about the situation,” she said in Rajasthan’s Ajmer, where she offered prayers at the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.