After the Punjab Police, Haryana Police and Delhi Police witnessed a three-way contest in Kurukshetra, Noida witnessed a high-voltage contest- this time between UP Police and Rajasthan Police.
It was almost a repeat of the Tajinder Bagga episode in Noida on Saturday. A team of the Rajasthan police went to News18 journalist Aman Chopra’s Noida residence and tried to make an arrest, but failed.
So, what is this case all about? Let’s find out.
Multiple FIRs against Chopra
In a news show, Aman Chopra had wondered if the recent demolition of a temple in Alwar was an act of revenge in response to the demolition drive in Delhi’s Jahangpuri.
Following Chopra’s remarks, multiple FIRs were registered against him by the Rajasthan police. He was booked under different provisions of the IPC, namely 124-A (sedition), 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), and 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups).
Stay of arrest and the events that followed
Now, there is a debate whether Aman Chopra should have been booked under these provisions in the first place. Remember, in run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the INC had promised to do away with sedition. So, why should the police in an INC-ruled state charge anyone with sedition?
The other provisions too are supposed to take care of extremely volatile situations. And there is an ongoing debate on whether Chopra should have been booked under those provisions, given his freedom of expression as a journalist.
The Rajasthan HC ordered no coercive action should be against Chopra in connection with cases against him over his show on demolition of temples in Alwar.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) May 7, 2022
Anyhow, what makes Chopra’s case rather curious is the fact that Rajasthan High Court had stayed Chopra’s arrest in relation to two FIRs registered against him in Bundi and Alwar districts.
Prominent social media users are thus questioning the attempt to arrest him, despite the stay order.
Despite the HC Order to not arrest @AmanChopra_ , the Rajasthan police is hunting the journalist. They have been harrassing him for the last 15 days. The Lobby which backed @RahulGandhi & gave lessons on Free Speech is silent on this 'fascist' intimidation. #IStandWithAmanChopra
— Pradeep Bhandari(प्रदीप भंडारी)🇮🇳 (@pradip103) May 7, 2022
While Left-jihadi cabal shouts from rooftops about freedom of press, their friendly govts continue to persecute journalists. After Uddhav, Ashok Gehlot sends 10 cops to arrest @AmanChopra_ despite Rajasthan high court staying all such coercive action. #IStandWithAmanChopra
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) May 7, 2022
On its part, Rajasthan police has stated that a third FIR was registered in Dungarpur district. An arrest warrant against Chopra was issued by a local court in this case, and there is no stay by the High Court in relation to this FIR.
Additional Advocate General (AAG) GS Rathore said, “The court did not stay his arrest in relation to the FIR registered in Dungarpur.”
So, a Rajasthan police team went to arrest Chopra hours after the High Court stayed arrest in two FIRs. However, the journalist’s apartment was found to be locked and the police had to return without success.
The cops have alleged lack of cooperation by UP police. Dungarpur SP Sudhir Joshi said, “This was the second time that our team went to arrest Chopra. Much like the previous instance, a Sub-Inspector of the UP Police took our team to a police station and made the team to wait on the pretext of details of the case. Our Additional SP had already briefed them on the case against Chopra who faces arrest warrant from a Dungarpur court.”
The SP added, “Our team was made to wait at the Noida police station and the accused had slipped away by then. When the team reached Chopra’s house, it was found locked. Around five-six days back when my team went to Noida, the same thing had happened.”
Meanwhile, UP Police hasn’t spoken of any such lack of cooperation. Bisrakh (Noida) SHO Umesh Bahadur Singh said, “Due process was carried out. The team came and we let them carry out the visit and subsequent checking. A notice was also served at the house. We facilitated the entire process.”
Yogendra Singh, ACP-2 Central Noida, has been quoted by TOI as saying, “The Rajasthan police team came to the Bisrakh police station around 3pm with non-bailable warrant against Chopra. It completed the legal procedure and our two personnel accompanied them to Chopra’s house, which was found locked. The team pasted the warrant outside his house and left.”
If the reports are to be believed, UP Police ensured that no illegal action can be taken against the journalist. Moreover, to prevent another Bagga episode from unfolding, UP Police took the Rajasthan Police with them to the police station.
However, the entire episode has thus unfolded like another tussle between two police forces over an interstate arrest, much like the Bagga incident. However, UP Police didn’t let Rajasthan Police take any illegal action. Kudos to UP Police!