Tweet On Morbi Bridge Collapse Leads To Saket Gokhale's Arrest; TMC Calls It ‘Political Vendetta’

The RTI activist-turned-politician Saket Gokhale in recent times attacked Modi government several times over India-Namibia Cheeta Deal and Morbi bridge collapse.

RTI Activist Saket Gokhale (third from the left) joined TMC in 2021

While Gujarat is all set for the assembly election results on December 8, the state police have today in the early morning arrested TMC national spokesperson Saket Gokhale from Jaipur airport for his tweet on Morbi bridge collapse that claimed that PM Modi’s visit to the site had cost Rs. 30 crores.

According to the reports of Indian Express, a complaint against Gokhale had been lodged by one senior BJP functionary Bhalabhai Kothari who “was disturbed by Gokhale’s tweet”.

On December 1, Gokhale tweeted a photo of a newspaper claiming that PM’s visit to Morbi costs Rs. 30 crores. The PIB Fact Check, a government’s fact check unit immediately called it on and said that the claims are ‘fake’. Gokhale’s tweet that referred to some RTI response was also fake, said PIB.

Gokhale’s tweet while sharing a newsclip said, “RTI reveals that Modi’s visit to Morbi for a few hours cost Rs 30 cr. Of this Rs 5.5. Cr was purely for “welcome, event management, & photography”. 135 victims who died got Rs 4 lac ex-gratia each i.e. Rs 5 cr. Just Modi’s event management & PR costs more than life of 135 people.”

Following the complaint of BJP leader Kothari, police registered an FIR and charged him of forgery, defamatory tweets and fear mongering.

According to the police, the newspaper Gujarat Samachar whose clippings Gokhale used has clarified that they haven’t published any such content making the citations ‘fake’.

“Gokhale posted on social media and tweeted claiming a news report by Gujarat Samachar… Prima facie the news report clippings cited are fake… Gujarat Samachar has placed on record that they did not publish any such news report. Considering the massive tragedy where so many have died and the sensitivity of the issue, it had potential law and order ramifications,” police said.

The police also said, “Gokhale has been detained for questioning and once he reaches Ahmedabad we will see (regarding necessary proceedings)... He is claiming impersonation and we will add sections under the IT Act if the need arises.”

Notably, photos of Morbi municipality hospital being repaired ahead of Modi’s visit to the victims of Morbi bridge collapse took the social media to storms. The unfortunate bridge collapse at Morbi on October 30 led to 135 deaths and several injuries.

TMC calls it ‘Political Vendetta’

National level leader of TMC, Derek O Brian earlier in a tweet said that Gokhale took a 9 pm flight from Delhi to Jaipur on Monday. Gujarat police was waiting for him at Jaipur and upon landing he was ‘picked up’ by the state police.

Derek further added that the police only had let Gokhale make one call to his mother where he could inform her that he was being taken away by Gujarat police. The police had allegedly snatched away his phone, said the TMC leader.

“At 2 in the morning on Tuesday, he called his Ma and told her that they are taking him to Ahmedabad and he would reach Ahmedabad by noon today. The police let him make that one two-minute phone call and then confiscated his phone and all his belongings,” the tweet reads.

Without mentioning the tweet for which Gokhale was allegedly arrested, Derek said, “The cooked-up case is filed with the Ahmedabad cyber cell about Saket’s tweet on the Morbi bridge collapse.”

Derek called it ‘political vendetta’ of the ruling BJP that has been trying to silence the TMC and any other dissenting voice.

Saket Gokhale’s recent strikes on Modi government over Cheetah Deal

Recently, Gokhale was found to be extremely vocal against the alleged deal India clinched with Namibia to get 8 Cheetahs on September 18. According to an Indian Express report, Namibia asked India to change its stance on Ivory trade ban against the Cheetahs. Since 1980s India has unequivocally voted against Ivory trade since it joined Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1976.

However, on November 22, India abstained from voting against the Ivory trade for the first time in decades. In 1989, Ivory trade was globally banned as CITES included African elephant in its Appendix I.

Gokhale filed an RTI seeking the copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between India and Namibia to supply the 8 Cheetahs to India on PM Narendra Modi’s birthday.

The government however in response to the RTI denied him the copy of the MoU. Gokhale on December 5 tweeted the response of the government and said, In the RTI response, “Modi govt refused to give a copy of the MoU stating that it could affect relations between India & Namibia. Now, why would a legally-signed MoU affect relations between 2 countries? Because they didn’t want us to know the “conditions” of the deal.”