Panaji: Goa police’s witch-hunt of a Facebooker, who now faces arrest for his anti-Narendra Modi post, is only an attempt by BJP Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to please party’s prime minister designate Narendra Modi, the Congress has alleged.
A day after Firstpost broke the story about the police hunting down a 31-year-old Mumbai-based shipbuilding engineer Devu Chodankar, protests have also started gathering steam with the Opposition as well as civil society rallying behind the Facebooker staging a dharna outside the police headquarters in Panaji today afternoon.
"Such crackdowns on citizens voicing their fears and opinions are nothing but attempts made by BJP leaders like Manohar Parrikar to please Modi. We wish Modi well in his new stint as prime minister, but he should beware of the Parrikars around him. They are dangerous for his image,” Congress state president John Fernandes, who was participating in the protest, said.
Parrikar, however, in his first reaction to the incident tweeted on Saturday afternoon after the protests, "A prominent citizen complained about a Facebook post, which was registered as per SC (Supreme Court) guidelines by the police. Anticipatory bail was rejected by court as per evidence and government has no role."
Members of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), two opposition legislators as well civil society activists demanded that the FIR filed against Chodankar be quashed in order to uphold the freedom of speech in the true spirit.
A trial court on Thursday had rejected the anticipatory bail application moved by Devu Chodankar, a shipbuilding diploma holder working in Mumbai, clearing the way for his possible arrest, even as the police want to probe if Chodankar had broader plans to “promote communal and social disharmony” in Goa.
During the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, Chodankar, in a post on Goa+, a popular forum with over 47,000 members, had claimed that if elected to power, Modi would unleash a 'holocaust'.
He deleted his post subsequently.
According to Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumnus Samir Kelekar, who is spearheading the protest, the police have shown almost unreal zeal and calibrated their actions against Chodankar along with the Lok Sabha poll schedule in Goa.
"The complaint was received by the police in March, but they got cracking only on the day Goa went to polls, because the case had potential to damage the BJP. The documents clearly reveal that," Kelekar said, adding that the police in Goa under the BJP-led coalition government were behaving in the same manner as it did in Goa under the Portuguese dictatorial regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.
Kelekar also said that registering offences under Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology act for a Facebook message was a draconian move and that action against Chodankar would instill fear in the youth, who were very clued into Facebook and other social networking forums.
"Devu did not instigate a community, he only expressed a fear about Modi for which he is being punished," Kelekar said.
The protestors are now due to meet the Director General of Police TN Mohan on Monday to demand dropping of the charges against the accused.
Meanwhile, the complainant, Kane, has claimed that he is being intimidated by "lawyers and some IITians" to withdraw the FIR. "Instead of spending time in correcting a wayward youth, people are spending time trying to convince me (read intimidate) to withdraw the case," he says.
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Updated Date: May 24, 2014 17:00:39 IST