Bhopal: In what appears to be yet another case of disproportionate action by the Madhya Pradesh police during the coronavirus pandemic, a 22-year-old youth leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was arrested for allegedly spreading rumours related to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s health on Thursday.
Rajan Singh, from Delhi, had earlier questioned the credibility of Chouhan’s COVID-19 test reports.
आज मुख्यमंत्री “शिवराज सिंह चौहान” जी के ऊपर उठाए गए सवालों को दोपहर 12 बजे, जेके हास्पिटल कोलार रोड, भोपाल में प्रेस कॉन्फ्रेंस कर साबित करूंगा।@jitupatwari @INCIndia @INCMP @sajjanvermaINC @VTankha @ChouhanShivraj @CMMadhyaPradesh @DainikBhaskar @News18MP pic.twitter.com/01nUa3DISi
— Dr.Rajan Singh (@DrRajanSinghncp) July 30, 2020
Confirming his arrest, ASP Bhopal Crime Branch, Gopal Dhakad said that Singh was arrested from a private hospital after he held a press conference to spread rumours about the chief minister’s health condition. The official added that it appeared that Singh had got himself admitted under false pretences to evade any police action.
Singh, who has been sent to police remand till August 4, has been booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and 505 (2) (statements conducting to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
Dhakad claimed that Rajan has been arrested for peddling rumours not only about the chief minister’s health but also for spreading misinformation about the novel coronavirus.
During a press conference on Monday in Bhopal, Rajan demanded that the chief minister make his COVID-19 test reports public. “Three days have passed since CM Chouhan allegedly fell prey to the COVID-19 virus, but neither any official statement nor any official report has been published by the government,” he claimed.
The private hospital, Chirayu, is only releasing a report which says everything is normal, he said. “The report, however, neither has an ICMR registration ID nor a Specimen Referral Form (SRF) ID. There is no patient ID, nor has it been signed by any authorised government doctor. This itself is a violation of COVID protocol,” he said.
He further alleged that the chief minister had been meeting with people, including other politicians, without any safety precautions.
“If the chief minister is corona positive, why is he hiding his test report? Why has he gone to a private hospital when there are AIIMS and other government hospitals? It looks like a media stunt just to gain public sympathy,” he alleged.
As the video of the press conference went viral on social media, the state police booked him under various sections of the IPC and subsequently arrested him on Thursday, hours before Singh had scheduled another press conference.
“To clarify his stand on the subject before the media, Rajan had called a press conference on Thursday around 12 pm. However, the police arrested him 15 minutes before the press conference,” said his close aide Aditya Kushwaha.
“Is urging the chief minister to make his COVID-19 report public is a crime in the state? Why is the government so afraid of a 22-year-old young man?” asked Kushwaha, while adding that instead of arresting Singh for asking a question, the chief minister should have made his report public.
Congress leader Kunal Choudhury has also backed Rajan and termed the police action arbitrary.