Aakar Patel, columnist and former executive director of Amnesty International India, has said he was arrested and then let out on bail earlier this week for allegedly posting “offensive” tweets against the Ghanchi community in Gujarat.
The Surat City police registered a FIR against Patel, filed by Purnesh Modi, a ruling Bhartiya Janata Party MLA from Surat West constituency and president of the Samast Gujarati Modhvanik Samaj. The FIR registered on July 7 states that on June 24 and June 27, Patel had posted three tweets that were objectionable and against the community. Patel has been booked under Sections 153 A, 295 A, 505 (1) B, 505 (1) C, 499, and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. Most of these sections are non-bailable.
The complainant has listed three tweets posted by Patel. In the first two tweets, Patel mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi belonged to the Ghanchi caste, which was added to the Other Backward Caste list in 1999 by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime. Patel goes on to say that the community is “well-off” and is “meat-eating” and that Modi has taken on the manner of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and has turned vegetarian. In another tweet that followed, Patel has alleged that those involved in the 2002 Sabarmati train carnage belonged to the Muslim Ganchi community. In this third tweet on June 27, Patel wrote, “The RSS and BJP always profit by the violence against other Indians, especially Muslims. Vajpayee more than Upadhyaya, Advani more than Vajpayee, and Modi more than Advani benefitted from this. We have to stop this cycle of violence and blood profit by the RSS and BJP.” The FIR stated, “The Ghanchi Muslims of Godhra involved in the attack on Sabarmati Express have no connection or relation with us. The accused had defamed the present Prime Minister of India & former Prime Ministers. The accused Aakar Patel had done this intentionally, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and entire Modi Ghanchi samaj"