Saket Gokhale, Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson, was arrested from Rajasthan's Jaipur on Monday evening by the Gujarat police, the party's parliamentary leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O'Brien said in a series of tweets on Tuesday morning.
O'Brien said that Gokhale was waiting at the airport when he was picked up by the Gujarat police and was being taken to Ahmedabad and would reach by Tuesday noon. Gokhale was allegedly allowed to make only one phone call to his mother after which all his belongings were confiscated by the police. The arrest is said to be over a tweet by Gokhale on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Morbi visit.
Over 130 people were killed and several others injured when a suspension bridge in Morbi collapsed on October 30. The prime minister had visited the site in light of the accident.
"Saket took a 9pm flight from New Delhi to Jaipur on Mon. When he landed, Gujarat Police was at the airport in Rajasthan waiting for him and picked him up," O'Brien wrote.
O'Brien said that the case was cooked up to serve BJP's political vendetta. "The cooked up case is filed with the Ahmedabad cyber cell about Saket's tweet on the Morbi bridge collapse. All this cannot silence @AITCofficial and the Opposition. BJP taking political vendetta to another level," he wrote.
What was the tweet that got Gokhale arrested?
While O'Brien did not specify the exact tweet, Gokhale's tweet on a purported RTI on December 1 is likely to be the one in question. Gokhale had received criticism from BJP supporters when he tweeted that Modi's visit to Morbi in November cost Rs 30 crore. Gokhale had added two screenshots of purported Gujarati newspaper reports with his tweet. BOOM had found both the newspaper clipping and the supposed RTI reply to be fake.
Along with the screenshots Gokhale had claimed "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."
Why Gokhale's tweet was inaccurate
The screenshot with Gokhale's tweet was shared by Twitter user Dax Patel. The caption read "An RTI reveals that the Morbi authority spent ₹30 crore for Modi's one-day visit after the bridge collapse"
BOOM found that the screenshot was designed to make it look like an e-paper clipping of Gujarat Samachar, a daily in the state. The purported report claimed that an Right RTI filed with the Morbi collector's office revealed that a total of 30 crore rupees were spent to prepare the town for PM Modi's visit. (View the archive of the tweet here).
BOOM found the screenshot to be a fake, and no such news story was published by Gujarat Samachar or any other newspaper in the state. We searched the clipping using the Gujarati text but found no evidence that such an article was ever published.
We then contacted the Ahmedabad bureau of Gujarat Samachar where the paper is headquartered.
Mukund Pandya, chief reporter of the newspaper's Ahmedabad bureau said they were contacted by the Gujarat police on the evening of December 1, 2022 when the clipping went viral. "The police told us that they had started a suo moto investigation into the clipping and reached out to confirm if we had published such a story," Pandya explained.
Pandya confirmed BOOM that the clipping was fake. "We looked into the clipping and no such article has been published by any edition of Gujarat Samachar. Someone has mischeviously made the clipping and then claimed that it is a story published in our newspaper. That is not true," he said. Pandya further added, "If you look at the screenshot, it does not say Gujarat Samachar anywhere. Also, while the style and layout may be of our paper, the font is different. We have officially replied in writing to the cyber crime cell of Ahmedabad police with these details."
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