Editor of online news portal arrested in Gujarat

Editor of online news portal held for writing on 'change of guard' in Gujarat

Representative image (iStock)
The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) on Monday arrested editor of an online Gujarati news portal for sedition for writing a speculative news story on change of guard in the state. The portal had carried the story that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani might be replaced by Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya in view of rising cases of coronavirus and Rupani's "failure" in containing the pandemic.
 
The news story was carried by the portal on May 7, claiming that "Mandaviya was chosen by the central government to replace current chief minister Vijay Rupani for failing to contain the virus." The similar speculative news story was carried by several media houses. However, in some interviews, Mandaviya denied that he was being considered for the top job. The complaint against the journalist was filed by a constable of the crime branch earlier in the day and subsequently, he was apprehended by the officials.
 
The editor Dhaval Patel has been booked for sedition (section 124A of Indian Penal Code) and under section 45 of disaster management act, 2005. A press release by DCB stated that Patel was held and sent to the COVID-19 care centre for medical examination.
 
"We have found that the news was published without any proof. Such baseless stories threaten to create an atmosphere of instability and fear among the public in the time of coronavirus pandemic," said B V Gohil, Assistant Commissioner of Police, DCB. When DH asked if other media houses, which carried similar stories, have also been booked, Gohil said, "As on today we have booked only one accused and probing others."
 
As a matter of fact, Rupani-led BJP government has been on the receiving end for not able to control the spread of infection in the state and, especially, the high mortality rate caused by the deadly virus. As on Monday evening, the state recorded 513 deaths at a mortality rate of over 6 per cent, said to be highest in the country, and 8,542 positive cases, the second highest in the country after neighbouring Maharashtra. 
 
To control the rising cases, Rupani had written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to send expert doctors including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, Director Randeep Guleria to visit Ahmedabad to guide the doctors and staffs who are treating the patients. Following the request, Shah rushed Guleria and another doctor Manish Suneja to the city in a special flight.