The Supreme Court has been seized to quash Delhi police FIRs against people accused of posting posters criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for handling the Covid pandemic and the national vaccination policy.
The petition, filed by a Pradeep Kumar, cites the right to freedom of speech and expression, and calls for the Delhi police to be ordered not to register FIR (first information report) or to act against those who have reportedly put up the posters across the nation’s capital in recent days.
Twenty-four people have been arrested to date and as many FIRs have been registered.
The posters – spotted across town – have messages like: “Modiji, Aapne Humare Bacchon Ki Videsh Kyu Bhej Diya vaccine? “(Modi ji, why did you send vaccines for our children abroad?).
The arrests were made by four different divisions of the Delhi Police – which is controlled by the central government. The divisions involved were from the East, East, Center and Northeast, suggesting a coordinated operation on the part of officials.
“More FIRs will likely be registered if further complaints are received about this. At present, an investigation is underway to determine in whose name these posters were placed and, accordingly, further action will be taken. “said a senior police official. PTI agency on Sundays.
Late Sunday evening, police said a member of Delhi’s ruling party, Aam Aadmi, was behind the posters. The accused, identified as Arvind Gautam, is now on the run, police added.
Police action against the posters and their supporters sparked a political backlash, with Congressman Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra among the loudest. Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra also tweeted in support of the posters.
Stop me too.
मुझे भी गिरफ़्तार करो। pic.twitter.com/eZWp2NYysZ
– Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 16, 2021
Delhi was one of the worst-hit territories in the second wave of the pandemic and in recent weeks has seen gruesome scenes of overwhelmed hospitals and patients dying due to lack of medical oxygen.
Prime Minister Modi’s government has come under heavy criticism from the opposition and international media for appearing more determined to deal with bad publicity than to resolve the COVID-19 crisis.