17 Arrested in Delhi Over Posters Critical of PM’s Vaccine Exports

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A total of 17 people have been arrested and 21 FIRs have been registered by the Delhi Police as of Saturday, 15 May, for allegedly putting up posters critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vaccine exports amidst the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, the Delhi Police said.

The police received information about the posters and subsequently alerted senior officers of the districts. Upon investigation, 21 FIRs were registered under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and other sections, as well as Section 3 of the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act across multiple districts of Delhi.

The posters, which read “Modiji humare bachon ki vaccine videsh kyu bhej diya?” ( Why did you our children's vaccine abroad?), were pasted across various districts in the national capital.

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Four of the arrests were made in East Delhi’s Kalyanpuri on Thursday, where the men claimed they were pasting posters on behalf of AAP councillor Dhirender Kumar, according to Delhi Police. The councillor has stated that he was not aware of any such allegations against him.

The Tribune reported that three FIRs were registered in northeast Delhi, where two persons were arrested. Three FIRs were registered in west Delhi and three more were registered in outer Delhi.

Two FIRs were registered in central Delhi, where the police arrested four persons. One FIR was registered in east Delhi and four persons were arrested, while two were registered in Rohini and two persons were arrested. One FIR was registered in Dwarka, where two persons were arrested and another one was registered in north Delhi and one person was arrested. He claimed to have received Rs 500 to paste the posters in question.

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A case was registered in Shahdara, where the police have obtained CCTV footage of the incident and are trying to catch the person in the footage, the police said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Additional DCP (East district) Sanjay Sehrawat said that four persons from Kalyanpuri - Dalip Lal (35), Shivam Dubey (27), Rahul Tyagi (24) and Rajeev Kumar (19) - had been apprehended by patrolling staff.

An FIR has been registered under Section 3 of the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, section 3 of the Press and Registrations of Books Act, sections 51 (1)(b) of the Delhi Disaster Management Act and sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease danger­ous to life) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC against the four persons.

“Around 860 posters and 20 banners have been recovered from their possession. During questioning, they claimed an AAP councillor asked them to paste all these posters. We are verifying the claims and further investigations are on,” the DCP added.

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A senior police officer told The Tribune that more FIRs were likely to be registered in connection with this matter if they received further complaints.

As per BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra's piece in The Indian Express, India exported over 6.63 crore vaccine doses to other countries, of which 1.07 crore vaccines (16 per cent) were sent as aid, while the rest were part of good diplomacy and commercial obligations. He said it was important to look into details to address the "myth" of India exporting vaccines to the world while neglecting its own citizens.

According the Union Health Ministry's evening report on 14 May, the cumulative number of vaccine doses administered across the country crossed the 18 crore-mark, with 3.9 crore people being fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

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