Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with a bunch of his colleagues and leaders of other parties, today hit out at the Centre over reports of several people being arrested in Delhi for allegedly putting up posters critical of the government's handling of the Covid crisis. Joining him in the gesture of protest, Priyanka Gandhi changed her Twitter profile picture to the poster itself.
"Arrest me too," Mr Gandhi tweeted today in both English and Hindi, along with the "white Hindi words on black background" poster that led to the arrests. It read: "Modi ji, why did you send vaccines meant for our children, abroad?"
Arrest me too.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 16, 2021
मुझे भी गिरफ़्तार करो। pic.twitter.com/eZWp2NYysZ
At least 17 people have been arrested by the Delhi police over posters that came up in the past few days in the capital criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Delhi police, which reports to the Union Home Ministry, has said it had also registered around 21 cases under the Defacement of Public Property Act & Section 188 in the matter relating to the posters, according to an ANI report.
India has reported more than 3 lakh infections a day over the past three weeks, overwhelming its health care system and leaving many without hospital beds, oxygen and adequate treatment.
Critics and opposition parties have targetted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, accusing it of mishandling the crisis and focussing on its own image.
Governments in several states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh have been accused of trying to hide their casualties as hundreds of bodies, supposedly of Covid victims, have been seen floating in rivers and buried in sand by the banks.
Besides Mr Gandhi, several others have criticised the arrests saying it indicates a "lawless state gone amuck".
Am shocked &stunned. May vehemently disagree bt under what authority, what law, wht power can U arrest those who put up posters eg auto driver, printer, daily wager etc. This, like UP arrest of person who complained on losing his father, smacks of a lawless state gone amuck!— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) May 16, 2021
Celebrate, India is a free country. There is freedom of speech— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) May 16, 2021
Except, when you ask a question of the Honourable Prime Minister
That is why the Delhi Police arrested 24 persons for allegedly pasting a poster in Delhi
The Trinamool Congress, Aam Admi Party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, and the CPM, too, voiced their opposition to the arrests.
12 Arrested Over Posters Against PM Modi In Delhi— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) May 15, 2021
“Modi ji, aapne humare bacchon ki vaccine videsh kyu bhej diya?"
Perfectly valid question. pic.twitter.com/XCJS5Bsg3G
"Busy with Election Rallies & building the Central Vista, Modi Govt didn't have time to plan for Vaccines, but has time to arrest the poor asking," the CPIM tweeted, repeating the line: "Why did you send our children's vaccines abroad?"
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh went one step ahead. Saying he would put up the posters on the compound wall of his residence, he asked the Delhi police and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to arrest him.
Putting up critical posters against PM is now a crime? Is India run by the Modi Penal Code now? Is the Delhi Police so jobless in the middle of a raging pandemic??— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 15, 2021
I am putting up posters on my compound wall tomorrow. Come get me.@DelhiPolice@AmitShahhttps://t.co/cFH8Tdh93p
Others like Congress spokesperson Dr Shama Mohamed and activist Saket Gokhale, too, followed Mr Gandhi's example and dared the police to arrest them for tweeting the same poster.