In a significant development, an RTI reply by a Gujarat court has caused considerable outrage among activists in Ahmedabad.
The reply by Anjar court, according to activists, has, for mysterious reasons, not included the audio recordings and manuscript of Narendra Modi’s speech in 2002, when he allegedly described the national flag “a piece of cloth.”
Speaking to www.jantakareporter.com, the RTI activist Roshan Shah said that he was ‘absolutely gobsmacked’ by the sudden disappearance of the key evidence from the RTI reply.
He said, “This shows how the system has always worked to protect Modi, who’s been a habitual offender in disrespecting the national flag. The petitioner had submitted both the evidence before the High Court, which had then directed the police to lodge an FIR in the case. The FIR clearly stated how it had secured the audio recording and manuscript of Modi’s speech on 26 January, 2002, when he made that controversial comments. But, there’s no mention of those two key pieces of evidence in the RTI reply provided to the lawyer Khemraj Koshti even though he had specifically asked for the same in his RTI request.”
Drawing a parallel with the nimble-footed approach of the same system in Gujarat in acting against the Patel leader Hardik Patel for alleged flag code violation, Shah said that no one has ’till date bothered to record Modi’s statement as a prime accused.’
He said, “Gujarat police followed the same police manual in arresting Hardik Patel, who was accused of the same crime under flag code violation. This clearly shows the double-standard of the administration in dealing with Modi, who’s been a habitual offender in disrespecting the national flag. Is it because Hardik belonged to the Patel community? No action has been taken till date in the two complaints I filed against Modi when he disrespected the tricolour during the International Yoga Day and his trip to the USA. The police refused to entertain my complaint even though the Centre had directed me to approach the police in the state.”
Patidar leader Hardik Patel was arrested by the Rajkot Police on 20 October for allegedly insulting the national flag and later taken into custody by the Surat Police to probe charges of sedition after he purportedly told a member of his community to kill policemen.
Anjar court, in its RTI reply to lawyer Koshti, submitted 70 pages of documents related to the case of flag code violation against Modi (M case 2/2002 JMFC Anjar)
Copy of FIR, which clearly states having secured audio cassettes, manuscript and names of persons present at the event
Watch lawyer Koshti talk about the RTI reply
Shah in November 2015 had written to the home ministry requesting to take action against Modi’s more recent violations of the national flag, but the MHA asked him to approach the local police.
It said, “FIR can be lodged in police station for misrepresentation of flag and violation of Flag Code of India 2002 and Prevention of Insults to National Honors Act 1971 and details of the same may be obtained from the same police station.”
However, when the activist approached Gujarat police (including the local police station, Police Commissioner and Cyber Cell), it refused to entertain the complaint saying it didn’t find any “cognizable offence.”
An incensed Shah said, “This is simply extraordinary. An ordinary citizen of India would be brought to task for such violation even if it had taken place in isolation. Modi has taken oath of constitution 9 times in his political career and yet he’s been violating flag code by disrespecting the national flag repeatedly. I find it amazing how there’s absolutely no effort to book him for the same. Despite media reports and FIR in 2002, Modi has not learnt any lesson. He’s simply behaving like a seasoned criminal?”
This development comes after Delhi court on 6 April took cognisance of a complaint filed against Modi for allegedly “insulting” the national flag during the international yoga day celebration last year and his visit to United States.
While ordering recording of pre-summoning evidence in May, Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria said, “I take cognisance of the complaint. Fix the matter for 9 May.”