Sedition Case Against Gujarat Editor For News on CM’s Replacement
Dhaval Patel has been charged with sedition for a news article suggesting Rupani could likely be replaced.
An editor of a Gujarati news portal, Dhaval Patel, was booked for sedition for allegedly publishing a report indicating a possible leadership change in the state due to rising criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Patel is the editor of the news portal Face of Nation, which has published an article on 7 May, suggesting that the BJP high command may remove CM Vijay Rupani from his post and replace him with Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. The union minister had denied the rumours.
The article had claimed that the top leadership of the BJP was not happy with how Rupani handled the COVID-19 crisis in Gujarat, which has seen an exponential rise in cases in the last few days.
The Ahmedabad Crime Branch registered an FIR against Patel on Friday under Section 124(a) that deals with sedition and the Disaster Management Act. Patel was detained from his residence in Ahmedabad on Monday.
“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,” said B V Gohil, Assistant Commissioner of Police, DCB Ahmedabad.
‘Desist From Misusing the Law to Threaten Free Press’: Editors Guild Condemns Police Action
Two days after Patel’s arrest, The Editors Guild of India issued a statement condemning “a growing pattern of misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists in different parts of the country.”
Noting concern on the “misuse of laws” against Dhaval Patel in Gujarat and the police action against an Indian Express reporter in Delhi, the Guild wrote, “The government and the police must recognise that the media is an integral part of the governance structure in any democracy.”
It added, “The Guild condemns these actions and asks the state and central governments to desist from misusing the law to threaten the free press.”
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