An FIR has been lodged against journalist and activist Aakar Patel by the Bengaluru police over a tweet of his that allegedly instigated and provoked people belonging to minority communities in India to protest along the lines of the anti-racism rallies currently taking place across the US.
Patel, the former chief of Amnesty International India, had tweeted a video by a US-based media house showing protesters in Colorado on 31 May and said “We need protests like these".
We need protests like these. From Dalits and Muslims and Adivasis. And the poor. And women.— Aakar Patel (@Aakar__Patel) May 31, 2020
World will notice. Protest is a craft. https://t.co/6btWiMtbOX
After taking suo moto cognisance of the tweet, JC Nagar police has booked Patel under Sections 505 (1) (b) statements intended to cause alarm in public, 153 wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot, and 117 abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than ten persons, of the Indian Penal Code.
The complainant is police inspector Nagaraja DR of the JC Nagar police.
Patel has reportedly said that he doesn’t think the “FIR will go anywhere” and that he should not have been booked.
The Executive Director of Amnesty International India, Avinash Kumar said, "The FIR filed by the Bengaluru police against Aakar Patel is just another example of how the right to dissent is being increasingly criminalised in the country. The Bengaluru police must stop abusing its authority and put an end to the intimidation and harassment of Aakar Patel for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression. People of this country have the right to agree or disagree with those in power, and to express these opinions in peaceful protests – without fear or unlawful interference. Peacefully protesting against the government is not a crime. Not agreeing with the policies of those in power does not make you a traitor either.”
Reactions to Tweet
From praising the spirits of protesters and minorities in India to discouraging Patel’s statement for being misguided in the time of a pandemic, the responses were varied:
Yes absolutely but not the looting Arson and Vandalism.— Tushar (@TusharG) May 31, 2020
The brave hearts of @Shaheenbaghoff1 protested just like this through it all. And they have been beaten, tortured, wrongly incarcerated and charged under the draconian UAPA. What can we do when the regime is totalitarian, authoritarian, casteist and criminal?— Firoza Daruwala (@firozadaruwala) May 31, 2020
(With inputs from Deccan Herald)
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