"56 Inches Of Cowardice," Says Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani In Swipe At PM

Jignesh Mevani, an Independent MLA in Gujarat, was arrested last month by the Assam police team over a couple of tweets that criticised PM Modi.

Jignesh Mevani addressed the media a news conference in Delhi.

New Delhi:

Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani on Monday ripped into the Assam government and police for his arrest, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well for a "conspiracy" to tarnish his image ahead of state elections later this year.

"I call this 56-inches of cowardice, using a woman to frame me in a false case... the Prime Minister's Office was involved in this conspiracy," he said.  

Mr Mevani also announced that he would take to the streets and ensure a Gujarat Bandh on June 1 on a raft of issues - seeking action against those behind the leak of 22 exam papers, the recent recovery of "Rs 1.75 lakh-crore" worth of drugs from the Mundra Port, and to press for the withdrawal of all cases against Dalits in Una and against minorities in the state.

Saying that Assam's Himanta Biswa Sarma government should be "ashamed" given the strong remarks by the court that granted him bail, he said, "On April 19th FIR was registered. Police travelled over 2,500 kilometres on the same day to arrest me. It was a pre-planned conspiracy to destroy me."

Mr Mevani, an Independent MLA in Gujarat, was arrested last month by an Assam police team from Palanpur town in Gujarat over a couple of tweets that criticised PM Modi. The case had been filed by a BJP leader in Assam.

He made bail on April 25 and the immediately re-arrested in an assault case filed by a policewoman, which the court has said was "manufactured".

He was finally released from jail on Saturday after a local court in Assam granted him bail on Friday.

Elected as an independent MLA, Mr Mevani had extended his support to Congress in September 2019.

Severely criticising the state police for trying to frame him, Assam's Barpeta sessions court in its order granting bail to Mr Mevani requested the Gauhati High Court to take up a petition on its own against recent police excesses in the state.

The sessions court also asked the Gauhati High Court to order the Assam Police to wear body cameras and install CCTV cameras in their vehicles to capture the sequence of events when an accused is taken into custody.

"Converting our hard-earned democracy into a police state is simply unthinkable," sessions court judge Justice Aparesh Chakraborty said in the order. "If the instant case is accepted to be true and in view of the statement of the woman recorded by the magistrate...which is not, then we will have to rewrite the criminal jurisprudence of the country," the court said.

"Contrary to the FIR (first information report), the woman has given a different story before the learned magistrate... In view of the testimony of the woman, the instant case is manufactured for the purpose of keeping the accused Jignesh Mevani in detention for a longer period, abusing of the process of the court and the law," the court said.