'Who is he…. don’t know': Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma on Jignesh Mevani arrest
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said ‘I don’t know' Thursday when asked about Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, who was arrested late last night in connection with allegedly offensive tweets about prime minister Narendra Modi and brought to Guwahati today. "I don’t know. Who is he?" the chief minister asked when reporters sought his reaction to Mevani's arrest. "I'm not aware of the specifics," he said, "Who will do vendetta politics when I don't know him?"
The Assam chief minister also snuck in a swipe at the Congress, which has rushed legal aid to help defend Mevani. "There will be enough evidence in Congress-ruled states where things (tweets) have been taken seriously," he said.
The Congress has claimed a 'conspiracy' in the arrest of Jignesh Mevani.
Assam unit chief Bhupen Borah claimed no details had been provided of the FIR based on which Mevani was arrested and pointing out Mevani is a vocal critic of the BJP and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor).'
Assam Congress spokesperson Manjit Mahanta told PTI the Congress would launch protests against the state if Mevani were not released on bail.
"We will wait for two days owing to Guwahati Municipal Corporation elections (Friday). If Mevani is not given bail in the meantime, we will start a movement."
Rahul Gandhi also weighed in; he tweeted: "Modiji, you can try to crush dissent by abusing state machinery. But you can never imprison the truth."
Jignesh Mevani was widely expected to join the Congress in October last year; his signing was seen as a boost ahead of assembly elections due later this year.
However, he later said 'technical reasons' meant he could not join. He did extend support and said he would contest the 2022 election on a Congress ticket.
A team from Assam Police arrested the Dalit leader and independent lawmaker at 11.30 pm yesterday from Palanpur town in Gujarat after a FIR (first information report) with various charges, including criminal conspiracy, was filed in Assam's Kokrajhar district.
He was flown to Guwahati and then taken to Korajhar by road, where he was presented at the police station and arrangements made for his bail plea.
"An FIR was registered against him for his tweet. We are moving his bail petition and we are hopeful that he will be out today," Kankan Das, a lawyer and the general secretary of the Congress' Assam unit, was quoted by news agency ANI.
The complaint against Mevani was registered by Arup Dey, who is a Bodoland Territorial Region executive member and BJP functionary. It was filed April 18.
According to the complaint Mevani's tweet referred to Modi and claimed he 'worships and considers [Mahatma Gandhi's assassin] 'Godse as God', while also asking the prime minister to appeal for peace and harmony in Gujarat’s communal violence-hit Himmatnagar, Khambhat, and Veraval.
With input from ANI, PTI