The Thackeray government in Maharashtra seems to be on a mission to shut out the last dissenting voice in the state that speaks against or criticises the government. Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami came out on bail yesterday after getting relief from the Supreme Court, however, Twitter user Sameet Thakkar is stuck in a loop of bail and arrest. Trouble refuses to end for Sameet Thakkar who is paying a heavy price for posting comments on social media against Maharashtra Chief Minister and his son.
Thakkar who is facing charges for his remarks was arrested by Maharashtra police for the third time in a row on November 11. He has been sent to police custody till November 13. However, Thakkar’s ordeal does not end there, the courts are closed till November 15 which means that he can request bail only be after courts reopen on November 16.
Three FIRs lodged against Thakkar
Two FIRs were lodged against Sameet Thakkar in Nagpur and at VP Road police station in Mumbai on July 2 for allegedly posting objectionable remarks against the Chief Minister, his son Aaditya Thackeray and Nitin Raut. Thakkar filed a plea in Bombay High Court seeking protection from arrest and requesting quashing of FIRs registered against him. on October 1, 2020, a Bench of Justice SS Shinde and MS Karnik granted Thakkar protection from arrest and ordered to cooperate in the investigation and record his statement at VP Road police station.
Another FIR was registered against Thakkar and eight others with BKC Cyber police by Shiv Sena’s legal consultant Advocate Dharmendra Mishra on August 5, 2020 after he allegedly posted a tweet alleging that Aaditya Thackray was linked with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his former manager Disha Salian. Thakkar is currently facing three FIRs in total filed with Nagpur police, VP Road police and BKC cyber police in relation to the comments posted by him.
Advocate Mishra said that Thakkar was spoiling the atmosphere of the country through his posts. “He has been uploading content that spoils the atmosphere of the country. Rather than using social media for constructive work, it is being misused to defame people and forward conspiracy theories”, said Mishra as reported by the Indian Express.
Court asked police not to take coercive action
He went to VP Road police station on October 5, 2020 to record his statement, however, he escaped from there on the pretext of using washroom fearing his arrest. He told the court on October 9, 2020 that he had escaped from the police station fearing arrest. The court asked the cops not to take any coercive action against Thakkar and hand over to him a copy of the FIR and record his statement.
Thakkar was ordered to appear in the police station on October 16 but he did not appear. After that, his lawyer Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud returned his brief on October 23. Advocate Raspal Singh Renu infrormed the court about the same and requested the court for time to appoint a new counsel, after which the matter was scheduled on November 3 for hearing.
The series of arrests started on October 24
Thakkar was first arrested by Nagpur’s Sitabuldi police on October 24 after which he spent nine days in custody. He was then re-arrested by the VP Road police from court premises after a Nagpur court granted him bail on November 2 in relation to the FIR lodged with Nagpur police. He was again arrested by BKC police on November 10 after he was granted bail on November 9 in relation to the FIR lodged with VP Road police. He was granted bail on the condition that he would not operate his Twitter account until further orders.
The BKC police arrested Thakkar in relation to the case lodged with them and sought his police custody before the local magistrate court. His anticipatory bail in relation to the FIR filed with the BKC cyber police was rejected by the sessions court. Thakkar will now have to spend Diwali in police custody. It is noteworthy that out of nine people against whom FIR was registered at BKC police station, only Thakkar has been arrested.
Thakkar had allegedly called Aaditya Thackeray as ‘Mohammad Azam Shah of Maharashtra, aka baby penguin.’ He also referred to CM as ‘Modern day Aurangazeb’ and posted a derogatory comment on Raut.