Jharkhand: BJP worker who washed MP’s feet, sues media for harassment

On 17th September 2018, a bizarre video had surfaced on social media which showed a BJP worker washing the feet of BJP MP  Nishikant Dubey and after that drinking that water. Nishikant Dubey, who is Lok Sabha MP from Godda constituency in Jharkhand, was attending an event to lay the foundation stone for a bridge on Tajia river between Kanbhari and Kalali village in Godda. During the ceremony, BJP worker from the area Pawan Shah washed Dubey’s feet with water and later drank a bit of the water used for the washing, to express his gratitude to the MP. Shah recalled how the villagers have been demanding the bridge for a long time, and they were grateful of Dubey for fulfilling his promise of building the bridge.

When the video surfaced on media, it attracted immediate criticism from all. But both the concerned persons had defended the act. Pawan Shah had told media that what he did was his personal choice, and there should not be any hue and cry over it. Dubey also defended it saying it is part of Indian tradition, and he could not refuse the demand of his party worker. He said that Pawan is a veteran party worker and he had threatened to kill himself if he is not allowed to wash Dubey’s feet, remembering how the same Pawan Shah had cut is own thumb to put a tilak of blood on the forehead of Dubey after he won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He said, “I had two choices: a man washing my feet, or a man threatening to kill himself. Pawan is not a young worker. He has been an RSS/BJP worker since the 1990s.”

Now, fed up with constant media coverage about the matter, Pawan Shah has sent a legal notice to several media personnel for their critical coverage of the incident. The notice sent through his advocate is addressed to Rohini Singh, Aroon Purie, Aveek Sarkar, Chief Editor of ANN, Rahul Joshi, Sudhir Chaudhary, Sudhir Agarwal and Chandan Sharma.

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The notice recounts that due the absence of proper roads and bridge over Tajia river, villagers were facing hardships. They had to travel an extra 7 km to cross the river, instead of the distance of 2 km. And during the 70 years of independence, no public representative took the matter seriously. During the 2014 election campaign when Dubey came to the village, he assured villagers that he will try to get the bridge built. Hearing this, Pawan Shah had publicly made a promise that on the day the foundation of the bridge is laid, he will wash the feet of Dubey and drink the water.

So, when finally Dubey came to lay the foundation for the bridge on 16th September, Pawan reminded him about his promise. Although Dubey had vehemently refused to allow Pawan to do so, Pawan and other villagers demanded that he must allow it. The legal notice mentions that Pawan threatened to harm himself with his own knife if he is not allowed to do this. At last Dubey had to concede and the act was recorded by some people, which was subsequently shown on various channels, after distorting the facts about the matter, the notice says.

The notice also alleges that wrong reporting about the matter has caused mental harassment of Shah. It also says that everyday channels are calling him and using abusive words for him and they are trying to damage his image in society.

The notice states that Shah washed the feet on his own and he was not forced by anyone to do it. He says that the Constitution gives him the independence to live his life the way he wants, there is no restriction on how he wants to express his feelings, how to greet guests. The act done during the foundation laying program does not violate any law and media is harassing him as if he has committed a grave crime.

He also mentions that misinformation about him is being spread on social media sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc. Due to this, his mental status is being disturbed and his family is very worried. He is even thinking of committing suicide as it has become difficult for him to step out of the house. The notice than adds if any untoward incident happens to Shah, the people mentioned in the legal notice will be solely responsible for the same.

The petition seeks to prosecute the mentioned media persons under sections 504 and 506 of IPC and section 67 of IT act.

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