Ajay Hatewar, the man accused of ‘defaming’ chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Twitter, has reportedly gone into hiding.
On July 2, Hatewar, a Youth Congress activist, allegedly tweeted a picture of Fadnavis and his family on holiday in Goa in 2013, and suggested that it was a current picture of the CM and his family holidaying in the United States. Fadnavis was on an official tour to the US last week and returned to Mumbai on July 7. According to the city police, Hatewar posted the tweet at 8.30 am on July 2. Before he went into hiding, Hatewar said the tweet was not his creation but a copy-and-paste job, and that it did not even mention the CM’s name.
The Nandanwan police have looking for Hatewar since BJP leader Dharampal Meshram lodged a complaint against him over the tweet. The police went to Hatewar’s house in Sakkardara but were told that he was not at home. They tried calling him but found that his phone had been switched off.
Meshram claimed in his complaint that Hatewar’s tweet sought to defame the chief minister and that action should be initiated against him. Sudhir Nandanwar, head of Nandanwan police station, said the case has been referred to the cyber crime cell in Nagpur. “The cyber cell has approached Twitter and enquired about Hatewar. The company replied that there are at least four to five Ajay Hatewars on Twitter,” he said.
Congress activist Gajraj Hatewar, Ajay’s father, said he was in Delhi when the complaint was registered against his son. “I reached here this morning and tried to contact my son. He is missing and his phone has been switched off,” he said. “We are surprised about the police action. We could not believe that a casual tweet could churn up such a storm, leading to a police complaint and a witch-hunt,” he added.
A second case of defamation has been registered against Hatewar at Oshiwara police station. Subhash Khanvilkar, the senior inspector there, said the case is being investigated by the Cyber Crime Investigations Cell (CCIC). “The case has been registered at Oshiwara but the cyber cell will be investigating it. No arrests have been made so far,” he said. He clarified that the Oshiwara police have not sent a team to Nagpur to search for Hatewar.
However, officials in the CCIC said the case will be handled primarily by the Nagpur police. “The case will be probed by the Nagpur police as the accused is based there. We will only provide technical support,” said S Mahadik, an inspector with the CCIC.