Bengaluru: The Bengaluru Police Friday filed a case against writer-journalist and former head of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel for allegedly trying to instigate minority communities in India to protest in a manner similar to the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US.
The FIR filed, by D.R. Nagaraja, an inspector attached to JC Nagar police station, accused Patel of attempting to stir protests such as those that have erupted in response to the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The US has been witnessing people breaking social distancing norms and coming out on to the streets for more than a week after Floyd was killed while being detained on 25 May. The protests turned violent on several occasions with US President Donald Trump threatening to send in the Army to contain the situation.
According to Bengaluru police sources who spoke to ThePrint, the department, which has been regularly tracking social media since the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests broke out, found a tweet by Patel to be provocative.
Patel’s Twitter post
Patel’s post said India needed to see protests just like these and encouraged Dalits, Muslims, Adivasis, the poor and the women to agitate. Attached to his tweet was a video posted by the Colorado Times Recorder, a news platform, which showed thousands of people gathering in front of the Capitol Building in Colorado to protest Floyd’s death.
“World will notice. Protest is a craft,” said Patel.
We need protests like these. From Dalits and Muslims and Adivasis. And the poor. And women.
World will notice. Protest is a craft. https://t.co/6btWiMtbOX
— Aakar Patel (@Aakar__Patel) May 31, 2020
Citing this post, Nagaraja filed the FIR under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 505 (1) (b) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or the public tranquillity), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 117 (abetting commission of an offence by the public or by more than ten persons).
‘No offence can be made out’
When ThePrint contacted Patel, he said that he had not received a copy of the FIR yet.
“I don’t even know the contents of the FIR. I am going by what I see in the media that the FIR has been filed by a policeman. Why they chose to file it I have no idea. There was no need for a case to be filed. No offence can be made out of what I said,” he said.
Amnesty International India issued a statement supporting Patel and said, “The FIR by the police was just another example of how the right to dissent is being increasingly criminalised in the country.
“The Bengaluru Police must stop abusing its authority and put an end to the intimidation and harassment of Aakar Patel for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression.
“People of this country have the right to agree or disagree with those in power and to express their opinions in peaceful protests — without fear of or unlawful interference,” read the statement signed by Amnesty International India’s executive director, Avinash Kumar.