In May 2020, in the midst of the first wave of Covid-19, Dhaval Patel, editor-in-chief of the Gujarati news web portal Face of Nation, wrote an article about a possible change of leadership in Gujarat. Patel was slapped for sedition and spent 14 days in judicial custody before being released on bail. On Saturday, Patel, who left India after the cancellation of the FIR, called the resignation of Rupani a “justification” for what he had reported.
While the article was withdrawn shortly after publication, the FIR was quashed in November last year, only after Patel issued an “unconditional apology” to the Gujarat High Court. While canceling the FIR, filed by a police sub-inspector, the court warned Patel that “as he publishes an article in the future, no such comments will be used against constitutional officials. without verification and he will make sure not to repeat the same “.
Patel told the Sunday Express on Saturday that he moved overseas in December 2020. Of his unconditional apologies, he said: “It was obvious the state wanted to drag the case and I didn’t want it. same thing because it was supposed to affect my career, so the government lawyer proposed that I apologize and I left the country.
On his story, Patel said, “I have reported based on confirmation from reliable sources and cross-checking of the same. The sedition case was also a way to put pressure on journalists given the Covid-19 context at the time. Patel continues to write for Face of Nation, and his last article was on September 4.
The article regarding Rupani’s replacement was written by him on May 7, 2020 and was titled ‘Mansoukh Mandaviya called by the high command, the chances of change of leadership in Gujarat ‘. Mandaviya, an MP for the Rajya Sabha of Gujarat, was at the time Union Minister of State for Navigation (Independent Office) and Chemicals and Fertilizers. (In the recent reshuffle he was promoted to Union Minister of Health).
The complainant was Deputy Inspector SJ Desai, assigned to the Ahmedabad Crime Detection Directorate (DCB). Patel was booked by DCB under section 124A of the IPC (sedition) and section 54 of the Disaster Management Act (for false warning) on May 11, 2020, and charged with ” tried to create unrest in society “. He was arrested on May 14 and the court released him on bail on May 27.
According to Patel’s report, the BJP was considering a change of guard due to criticism from the Rupani government of the increase in Covid-19 cases, which were viewed by the high command as “mismanagement of affairs by the military apparatus. ‘State “. He said Mandaviya called by the high command in Delhi signaled that he could be Rupani’s replacement, and added that there were several instances of BJP suddenly changing to CM without anyone knowing.
The article was withdrawn after Mandaviya denied this and praised Rupani for leading a “successful” fight against Covid-19. The news portal carried Mandaviya’s denial.
In granting Patel bail on May 27, the Ahmedabad Magistrates’ Court observed that the prosecution’s record on its face did not indicate a serious offense as alleged by the state.
A senior police official told the Sunday Express on Saturday that Patel’s arrest was based on a complaint filed by the police themselves after an investigation. “No politician has lodged a complaint. “
In its complaint, SI Desai quoted the article, saying it had circulated on various social media platforms and that the “rumors … (have) caused an atmosphere of fear and instability among the population”.
“The brief content of the article is that Corona cases are increasing in Gujarat. The chief minister failed to deal with the pandemic and his knowledge was taken by New Delhi. In this regard, Mansukh Mandaviya was called to Delhi by the high command because he enjoys the image of a trusted lieutenant of the Prime Minister. For this reason, speculation about a power reshuffle is on the rise. The PM and the high command are not satisfied with Rupani’s work, because of which, in such places where the cases of Covid are increasing, the high command has introduced an army of IAS officers… The officers of the ‘IAS have been given all kinds of freedoms… informed the sources. Usually, in these cases, the BJP high command does not let go of a whiff and the final decision is usually shocking. Even in Anandiben’s time, no one had any information that Ben was going to leave and all of a sudden she posted her resignation on Facebook, ”the complaint said, citing the article.