Jaipur: In yet another example of the curtailment of freedom of expression in the country, actor Payal Rohatgi, famous for her pro-Hindutva and often anti-Muslim stance on social media, was arrested by Rajasthan police on Monday for two Twitter videos against the Nehru family which were deemed ‘objectionable’.
Rejecting Rohtagi’s bail plea, the Bundi district court sent her to judicial custody till December 24.
“She has been sent to Bundi jail,” Brajraj Singh, assistant sub-inspector at the Sadar police station in Bundi told The Wire.
She was picked up from her residence at the Satellite area in Ahmedabad on Sunday morning by a team of Bundi police and brought to Rajasthan.
The action reportedly came in the aftermath of two videos that Rohatgi had posted on social media on September 6 and 21 this year where she made comments about the Nehru family, including Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
A complaint was filed by Charmesh Sharma, general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress in Rajasthan, and an FIR was registered at the Sadar police station in Bundi on October 10 under sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and section 67 of the IT Act (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Indian Penal Code.
As per Rajasthan police, Rohatgi had avoided multiple notices sent to her to turn up at a police station.
“We have detained her from Ahmedabad. We are bringing her to Bundi, she should be here by Monday morning,” Bundi SP Mamta Gupta had told Indian Express.
“We didn’t have her current address so we sent a team to Mumbai earlier. We sent multiple notices to her Mumbai and Ahmedabad addresses to present herself, but she did not turn up. So we finally sent a team to Ahmedabad,” said Gupta.
Meanwhile, Rohatgi has posted on Twitter, tagging the PMO and the Union home ministry, “I am arrested by Rajasthan Police for making a video on Motilal Nehru which I made from taking information from Google. Freedom of speech is a joke.”
— PAYAL ROHATGI & Team- Bhagwan Ram Bhakts (@Payal_Rohatgi) December 15, 2019
In the videos, Rohatgi falsely claims that a biography of M.O. Mathai, private secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru, mentions that Motilal Nehru had five wives – Swaroop Rani, who was his legal wife, Thussu Rahman Bai, Manjari, an Iranian woman, and a domestic help.
She also claimed that Motilal had a son named Muhammad Ali Jinnah from his Iranian wife and Jawaharlal Nehru was the son of Thussu Rahman Bai from her former husband.
NDTV has reported that Rohatgi’s lawyer Bhupedra Saxena told the court his client had freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.
“Freedom of expression is a right guaranteed under the Constitution and whatever Payal Rohatgi said was not something of her own volition… she was quoting from MO Mathai’s book,” he was quoted as having said.
Notably, M.O. Mathai had written two memoirs narrating his time with Jawaharlal Nehru, titled Reminiscences of The Nehru Age and My Days with Nehru. Neither of these books mention any of the claims put forth by Rohatgi.
These falsehoods have long since been circulated through WhatsApp and other social media routes as part of an enduring campaign under the current dispensation, to malign Nehru.