Indian editor detained, charged with sedition for article on replacing Gujarat CM over Covid handling

Published May 13, 2020
A first information report was filed against Dhaval Patel, who is the editor of the website Face of Nation. 
— AFP/File
A first information report was filed against Dhaval Patel, who is the editor of the website Face of Nation. — AFP/File

The editor of a Gujarati news website in India has been charged with sedition and detained for publishing an article suggesting that Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, may be replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya, India's Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, the Press Trust of India reported, quoting the police.

The article in question, published on May 7, had reportedly claimed that top leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party were unhappy with Rupani’s management of the coronavirus crisis in the state.

A first information report was filed against Dhaval Patel, who is the editor of the website Face of Nation.

The article had also said that the BJP high command had called Mandaviya to discuss the change in leadership in Gujarat, a report published in Scroll.in said. However, Mandaviya had denied the rumours.

The case against Patel was registered by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch on Friday under Section 124(a) of the Indian code that deals with sedition and the Disaster Management Act.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Ahmedabad, B V Gohil, said that Patel had been detained and not arrested and that as a precautionary measure, he had been sent to a hospital for Covid-19 test.

Gohil said the article carried by Face of Nation against the chief minister was published without any evidence. He added that unfounded news articles lead to an atmosphere of instability and fear at a time when India is fighting the pandemic.

When asked if other news organisations that had carried the story have also been booked, the Deccan Herald quoted Gohil as saying that so far they have charged "only one accused and are probing others".

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