Gujarat Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani on Monday alleged that his arrest by the Assam Police was a pre-planned conspiracy "designed" by the Prime Minister's Office and called it an act of "56-inch cowardice".
Saying that it was a conspiracy to destroy him ahead of assembly elections in the state, Mevani also announced that he would take to the streets and ensure a Gujarat Bandh on June 1 on a range of issues — the leak of 22 exam papers, the recent recovery of "Rs 1.75 lakh-crore" worth of drugs from the Mundra Port, and for the withdrawal of all cases against Dalits in Una, and atrocities against minorities in the Gujarat.
"My arrest is an act of 56-inch cowardice and it has undermined Gujarat's pride," said Mevani at a press conference in an apparent swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 56-inch chest assertion.
He added, "My arrest by the Assam Police was a pre-planned conspiracy. It was in blatant disregard to protocol and rules for an MLA."
Mevani was picked up by the Assam Police from Gujarat on April 19 and was taken to Assam in a case over a tweet against PM Modi in which he said Modi "considered Godse as God". After being released on bail in the case, Mevani was arrested again in another case of assaulting a policewoman. A court in Assam's Barpeta granted him bail in the case and urged the Gauhati High Court to consider directing the Assam Police to reform itself to "prevent registration of false FIR like the present case".
Mevani said he had only tweeted asking Modi to give a call for peace and harmony in Gujarat, a state he considers "Mahatma's temple".
He said, "Does this mean you do not want to appeal for peace and harmony...I challenge BJP leaders to say Godse murdabad from Red Fort, if they are not Godse-bhakts It is my charge that this is a conspiracy designed by the Prime Minister's Office. Gujarat elections are due soon and this is being done to destroy me. I fear there is every chance that by now they may have planted something on my computer which has been seized by them."
Mevani also asked what the interest of the Bharatiya Janata Party or Modi could be in arresting him over a mere tweet as if he were a terrorist. He said, "Such things are very dangerous for our democracy." He alleged that the woman police officer was put under "pressure" to complain against him, but he will not go against her "öut of generosity". The attempt to harass him had failed, Mevani declared.
On Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's claim that he was not aware of the arrest, Mevani said, "It is impossible that the Assam CM does not even know about my arrest. He got offences registered against me at the instance of his political bosses."
In Mevani's view, it is shameful that the judiciary had stated that Assam is becoming a police state. Detailing his next course of action, he said he would fight all the cases registered against him.
He said, "The manner in which all cases against Patidar community registered during their agitation have been taken back, all cases against Dalits in Una and against minorities in my Vadgam constituency should also be taken back. Paper leak cases be investigated by a SIT [Special Investigation Team] and Gautam Adani be investigated in the case of seizure of drugs worth Rs 1.75 lakh crore from Mundra port."
Mevani said there have been 22 paper leaks in Gujarat, Rs 1.75 lakh crore worth of drugs found in Mundra port, and a Dalit woman pressed rape charges against a sitting minister, an issue that was discussed in the Gujarat assembly. No action has been taken in these cases.
Besides, Mevani added, there was no action against the organisers of a Dharam Sansad for genocide against a particular community but there were two FIRs against him on a tweet and a woman was used to get another case registered.
He said, "What does it show? What is the intention and priority of the Modi government?"
Mevani is an Independent MLA from Gujarat's Vadgam constituency. He is aligned with the Congress party and has said that he would contest the next election on a Congress ticket.
(With PTI inputs)