Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Wednesday alleged that the police in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh were trying to protect TV news anchor Rohit Ranjan, who is accused of playing a doctored clip of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
His statement comes amid the Chhattisgarh police’s allegation that their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh were no cooperating with them in this case. The Chhattisgarh police have summoned Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan and some of his colleagues for probe into allegations of airing a doctored video of Rahul Gandhi. A team of the Chhattisgarh police on Wednesday stayed put in the national capital region for a second day as it continued its search with an arrest warrant for Ranjan.
The policemen went to the TV anchor’s home in Ghaziabad in the morning and later to his office in Noida Film City, officials said.
A case was registered against Ranjan and others at Zee News on Sunday at Civil Lines Police station in Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups and outraging religious feelings of people, based on a complaint by Congress MLA Devendra Yadav, Raipur’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Prashant Agrawal said.
Talking to reporters here at the helipad in Police Lines, chief minister Baghel said, ”Uttar Pradesh Police is trying to protect the accused. They should have cooperated with Raipur police.” Hitting out at the BJP, Baghel alleged, ”The BJP does not honour court orders (issued against Ranjan by a Chhattisgarh court). In Nupur Sharma case, the way BJP supporters trolled the Supreme Court observations, it shows they (BJP leaders) do not believe in the court and want to weaken the Constitution. They just follow their own agenda.” The SSP had on Tuesday claimed that the Noida police obstructed Ranjan’s arrest procedure by taking him away with them. The Raipur district police had gone to Ranjan’s home in Indirapuram area near Delhi on Tuesday early morning, but he was instead arrested by the Noida police who released him on bail later in the night.
”The Noida police, who released him on bail, should have informed the Raipur police, as the team had gone to Sector-20 police station (in Noida) on Tuesday, asking for the whereabouts of the accused. They did not tell us anything about him and late Tuesday evening released a press note stating that he is released on bail. Now, he is absconding,” Agrawal alleged.
In his complaint against Ranjan, Yadav alleged that a video, in which Rahul Gandhi described those attacking his Wayanad office as children and said he had no ill-will against them, was ”mischievously” used by the TV channel on July 1 to suggest he was forgiving the killers of Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal.
Yadav, who represents Bhilai Nagar constituency in Chhattisgarh, has accused the director and chairman of Zee News and its chief executive officer of conspiring to spread fabricated and fake news against Gandhi in a bid to incite communal riots and disturb social harmony, the official said.
Ranjan and others were booked under various IPC sections, including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 467 (forgery), 469 (forgery to harm reputation) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), the SSP said.
On July 2, a day after the video was aired, Ranjan had apologised for mistakenly playing Gandhi’s statement on vandalisation of his Wayanad office out of context by linking it with the Udaipur murder case.
”It was a human error for which our team is apologetic. We apologise for it,” he had tweeted in Hindi.
However, the video was used by several people, including BJP leaders, to attack Gandhi and the Congress party after the Udaipur murder on June 28.
The assailants in Udaipur purportedly admitted their crime in a video clip, saying it was meant to avenge an insult to Islam.