Kokrajhar: Gujarat legislator Jignesh Mevani, who was arrested by Assam Police from the western state for a purported tweet, was on Thursday remanded to three days police custody by a court here.
Mevani, who is an independent MLA supported by the Congress, was produced before the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kokrajhar after arrival from Ahmadabad via Guwahati in the evening.
“The police sought 14 days custody, to which we objected. After hearing both sides, the court gave three days police remand and said that during this period, he cannot be taken anywhere outside Kokrajhar,” Manoj Bhagawati, advocate appearing for Mewani, said.
Bhagawati, who was deputed by Assam Congress to aide Mewani, added that a bail petition moved on Mevani’s behalf was however rejected by the court.
The Dalit leader was apprehended from Palanpur town in Gujarat on Wednesday night after a First Information Report (FIR) under various sections of the IPC and the IT Act was filed in Kokrajhar Police Station. He was flown to Guwahati from Gujarat on Thursday morning and then taken to Korajhar by road.
Flaying the arrest, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed it as “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional”.
Gandhi said it was an insult to the people who elected him as a public representative.
According to the FIR that led to Mevani’s apprehension, he had purportedly written a tweet, claiming Prime Minister Narendra Modi “considered Godse as God”.
The independent MLA from Vadgam seat in Banaskantha, who has pledged his support to the Congress, had used the same tweet to also urge Modi to appeal for communal harmony during his visit to the Gujarat, the FIR at Kokrajhar Police Station, which was accessed by PTI, said.
Angered over Mevani’s arrest, Gujarat Congress leaders staged a demonstration near Sarangpur circle in the city and demanded his release.
“Assam police took custody of Mevani from Palanpur circuit house late on Wednesday night and took him with them to Assam after informing the local police,” an official of Banaskantha police station in Gujarat said.
Mevani had won as an independent MLA from Vadgam (SC) seat of Banaskantha in 2017 with Congress support. Though he is “ideologically” with the Congress, he has not joined the opposition party officially. He has earlier said that he would fight the next elections as a Congress candidate.
He was arrested after an FIR under section 153A of the IPC, which deals with offences related to promoting enmity between communities, was registered at Kokrajhar police station in Assam, said Mevani’s aide Suresh Jat.
“As per a document shared by the officials of the Assam police, an FIR has been lodged over a tweet by Mevani few days back. However, the tweet has been withheld by Twitter.,” Jat added.
Apart from section 153A of the IPC, Mevani has been booked under section 295A (malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 504 (provocation with an intention to break public peace) and under relevant sections of the IT Act.
After learning about Mevani’s arrest, Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor and other Congress leaders rushed to Ahmedabad airport around 4 am to express solidarity with Mevani.
To protest Mevani’s arrest, Congress leaders and workers, including Thakor, Leader of Opposition Sukhram Rathva and former Gujarat Congress chief Siddharth Patel, staged a protest at Sarangpur circle and raised anti-BJP slogans.
Following their attempt to block the busy road, local police briefly detained nearly 20 Congress workers and leaders, including Thakor, said an official of the city police control room.
In Guwahati, surprisingly, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday claimed that he was not aware of Jignesh Mevani’s identity, hours after the MLA, was arrested and brought to the northeastern state from Gujarat.
The state Congress unit, however, smelt a conspiracy behind the arrest and rushed legal experts to the aid of the apprehended Dalit leader, who recently pledged his support to the grand old party.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Borah, criticising the police action, said it smacked of conspiracy.
“Mevani has always been vocal against the BJP and the RSS,” he said, shortly after the arrest.
Mahanta also said that the Congress would build up a movement against the government if Mevani was not released on bail.
“We will wait for two days owing to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation elections (to be held on Friday). If Mevani is not given bail in the meantime, we will start a movement.”
The ruling DMK’s student wing on Thursday expressed shock over Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani’s arrest by the Assam police and alleged ulterior political motives behind the arrest. Mevani is one of the special invitees to a proposed DMK convention to be held from April 30, here.
The DMK said it stood behind Mevani, while its youth wing secretary and MLA CVMP Ezhilarasan described Mevani as his friend and asked him to remain strong. “Stand courageously my dear friend. The DMK youth wing stands behind you.”