Trinamool's Saket Gokhale Detained, Questioned In Ahmedabad Over Tweet On PM's Morbi Visit

Mamata Banerjee says Saket Gokhale was "picked up" from Jaipur airport on Monday night; party leader Derek O'Brien says "political vendetta" by BJP

Saket Gokhale is national spokesperson of Trinamool Congress.

Ahmedabad/Kolkata/New Delhi:

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale was being interrogated today after he was detained by the Gujarat Police from Rajasthan last night over a tweet about PM Narendra Modi's visit to Morbi, where a bridge collapse killed over 130 people in October. Senior party leader Derek O'Brien, who first tweeted about it this morning, is headed to Ahmedabad, sources said.

The detention was confirmed by a Gujarat Police officer only after Derek O'Brien tweeted and called it "political vendetta" by the BJP. "Formal arrest will be made after a Covid test," Jitendra Yadav, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Cell, told news agency PTI.

Sources told NDTV that senior BJP leader Amit Kothari is the complainant, though police only said the FIR was lodged on "a complaint by a citizen". Charges include those for forgery and defamation.

The government's fact-check unit had recently pinpointed Mr Gokhale's tweet in which he shared what looked like newspaper clippings saying "RTI revealed the PM's visit to Morbi cost Rs 30 crore". 

"This claim is fake," the Press Information Bureau said in its fact-check of December 1.

In a series of tweets this morning, Derek O'Brien, Rajya Sabha leader of Bengal's ruling Trinamool, said Saket Gokhale had taken a Monday night flight from New Delhi to Jaipur, from where he was "picked up" by Gujarat Police.

"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," Mr O'Brien further said.

He said the case against the RTI activist-turned-politician has been "cooked up by the Ahmedabad [police] cyber cell about Saket's tweet on the Morbi bridge collapse". He did not say which tweet.

In Gujarat's Morbi town, a colonial-era suspension bridge collapsed on October 30, killing over 130 people, just four days after it was reopened upon renovation. The probe has pointed towards failure of the municipal authorities as the renovation contractor allegedly did not follow the norms.

The Rajya Sabha member further said: "All this cannot silence All India Trinamool Congress and the Opposition. BJP taking political vendetta to another level."

Neither the BJP nor the Gujarat government has reacted yet.

News agency PTI contacted Jaipur airport police in-charge Digpal Singh, who said: "I have no information. Nobody informed us."

The alleged arrest came hours after polling for the Gujarat assembly elections got over.

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