Late Sunday evening Delhi Police said a member Delhi’s ruling AAP was behind the posters and identified the accused as Arvind Gautam, who they said is now on the run
The Supreme Court has been petitioned to cancel Delhi Police FIRs against those accused of putting up posters criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government over the handling of the Covid pandemic and the national vaccination policy.
The petition, filed by a Pradeep Kumar, cites the right to freedom of speech and expression, and asks that Delhi Police be directed not to register FIRs (first information report) or act against those who allegedly put up the posters across the national capital over the past few days.
Twenty-four people have been arrested so far and as many FIRs have been registered.
The posters – spotted across the city – have messages like: “Modiji, aapne humare bacchon ki vaccine videsh kyu bhej diya?” (Modi ji, why did you send vaccines meant for our children abroad?).
The arrests were made by four different divisions of Delhi Police – which is controlled by the central government. The divisions involved were Eastern Range, East, Central and Northeast, suggesting a coordinated operation on the officials’ part.
“More FIRs are likely to be registered if further complaints are received in this regard. As of now, investigation is underway to ascertain on whose behalf these posters were being put up and accordingly further action will be taken,” a senior police officer told news agency PTI on Sunday.
Late Sunday evening the police said a member Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party was behind the posters. The accused, identified as Arvind Gautam, is now on the run, the police added.
Police action against the posters and their advocates has sparked political backlash, with the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra among the most vocal. Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra has also tweeted in support of the posters.
Arrest me too.
मुझे भी गिरफ़्तार करो। pic.twitter.com/eZWp2NYysZ
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 16, 2021
Delhi has been one of the worst-hit territories in the second wave of the pandemic and, over the past few weeks, has seen horrific scenes of overwhelmed hospitals and patients dying because of the lack of medical oxygen.
PM Modi’s government has been sharply criticised by the opposition and international media for appearing more intent on addressing the bad publicity than solving the COVID-19 crisis.