On Wednesday, the special branch informed the Delhi Police Commissioner, S.N. Shrivastava that there was a widespread circulation of posters and banners which asked, “Modi Ji hamare bachon ki vaccine videsh kyon bhejidi?” translating into Modi ji, why did send vaccines meant for our children, abroad? After that there have been 25 arrests in Delhi have been made under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), and those under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act and Epidemic Act.
“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 at various places across the city and accordingly further action will be taken,” a senior police officer told news agency PTI.
According to the Indian Express, “Rahul Tyagi (24), said he was given 20 banners by staff at AAP councillor Dhirender Kumar’s office on May 11, and promised Rs 600 for putting them up in Kalyanpuri.” It continues “When contacted, Kumar denied the allegations and said he was only involved in “working for the people”. AAP did not respond to the allegations, but tweeted on Saturday night — “Modi ji hamare bachon ki vaccine videsh kyon bhej diya” — the same line as in the posters.” Along with Tyagi, Rajeev Kumar (19), Dilip Tiwari (35) and Shivam Dubey (24) were also arrested and given a bail on 14th May 2021.
The arrests were made by different divisions of the police -North, Northeast east, West, North west and Dwarka Divisions- indicating that the operation was a coordinated action.
From North division, FIR was lodged in Timarpur against Tarekshwar Jaisal aged 24.
“ An officer said he had lost his job during the lockdown and was sitting at Ghanta Ghar in Sabzi Mandi when he was approached by a man who gave him Rs 500 to put up the posters” , said The Indian Express report. In the Northeast division’s Bhajanpura, Khajuri Khas and Dayal pur Police Stations, three FIRs have been lodged against Sanjay Kumar aged 19, a school dropout.
5 arrests were made in Kirti Nagar in the West Division. Devender Kumar (51), Tilak Raj Chhabra (47), Anil Gulati (61), Murari (45) and Rakesh Kumar (42) are the accused.
The IE report said, “Linking the four to the case, a senior officer said: ‘Devender is a contractor, who got Rs 15,000 for the job. He asked Chhabra, who runs his printing press, to get the posters put up. They later approached Gulati, a wooden frame maker, Rakesh, an auto driver and Murari, who put up such posters.’ Rakesh and Murari were arrested based on CCTV footage which showed them fixing a signboard on an electric pole.”
Similar allegations were made on the 3 arrested North West Division’s Outer Mangolpuri Police Station named Rahul Kumar (24) a sales agent, Rajesh Sharma (38) a printing shop owner and Anil Kumar (30) a e-rickshaw driver. Dwarka Division’s Dabri accused were Mohd. Sohail (26) and Mohd. Akhar (24) who were given Rs.300 by an unknown printing press owner.
There were sharp reactions on Twitter by several opposition party leaders and activists on 15th May.
Dr. Shama Mohamed, the National Spokesperson of INC tweeted’ “12 arrested in Delhi over posters criticising PM Modi’s handling of the pandemic. There is zero accountability from the govt when Indians are dying on the streets but immediate arrests when anyone even protests against these lapses! Democracy is being strangled by the BJP”
Mahua Moitra , a MP of the All India Trinamool Congress, tweeted, “12 Arrested Over Posters Against PM Modi In Delhi.’Modi ji, aapne humare bacchon ki vaccine videsh kyu bhej diya?’ Perfectly valid question.” along with the picture of the posters.
Prakash Raj, well known actor and activist said, “I REPEAT ‘Modi ji, aapne humare bacchon ki vaccine videsh kyu bhej diya?’Now .. Come .. Arrest me too #JustAsking”
Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh dared the Delhi Police to act against him for putting up a critical poster against Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeting, “Putting up critical posters against PM is now a crime? Is India run by the Modi Penal Code now? Is the Delhi Police so jobless in the middle of a raging pandemic??
I am putting up posters on my compound wall tomorrow. Come get me.
Prashant Bhushan, a Public Interest Lawyer and Activist tweeted on Sunday morning , “While PM is busy with his 17,000 Crore Central Vista, his police arrests 15 people for putting up posters that question his Govt’s Covid response!”
P. Chidambaram, Former Finance Minister and senior Congress politician tweeted, “Celebrate, India is a free country. There is freedom of speech…Except, when you ask a question of the Honourable Prime Minister .That is why the Delhi Police arrested 24 persons for allegedly pasting a poster in Delhi” and “The poster asked a simple question of the PM: why did you export the vaccines meant for our children? Even before the PM could answer, the loyal Delhi Police answered with ARREST. Celebrate, India is a free country!” on Sunday.