Panaji: The battle over a Goan Facebooker`s anti-Narendra Modi comments got serious Saturday with the Opposition dragging Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar into the ambit of accusations.
On a day which saw protests by the Opposition, as well as civil society activists outside the police headquarters here, also saw Parrikar taking to Twitter to react over police action against 31-year-old shipbuilding professional Devu Chodankar.
"Such crackdowns on citizens voicing their fears and opinions are nothing but attempts made by BJP leader like Parrikar to please Modi. We wish Modi well in his new stint as the prime minister, but he should be aware of the Parrikars around him. They are dangerous for his image," said Congress state president John Fernandes.
Fernandes said police were acting like puppets of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and that any anti-BJP voice was being squelched.
After the protest Saturday afternoon, Parrikar tweeted: "A prominent citizen complained about a Facebook post, which was registered as per SC (Supreme Court) guidelines by police. Anticipatory bail was rejected as per evidence and government has no role in it.
The protestors will meet Director General of Police T.N. Mohan Monday to demand dropping of charges against the accused.
Parrikar said: "Contrary to the propaganda the person has not appeared before police after being summoned twice."
Earlier, protestors from the Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, and Aam Aadmi Party, as well as two opposition legislators and activists demanded that police drop the FIR filed against Chodankar in order to uphold the spirit of freedom of speech.
On Thursday, a trial court rejected the anticipatory bail application moved by Chodankar, working in Mumbai, clearing the way for his possible arrest, even as police wanted to probe if he had planned to "promote communal and social disharmony" in Goa.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election campaign, Chodankar in a post on Goa+, a popular forum with over 47,000 members, claimed that if elected to power Modi would unleash a "holocaust".
He deleted his post subsequently.
However, justifying his post on another popular local Facebook forum, Goa Speaks, Chodankar while apologising for his choice of words stood by the sum of his argument, calling it his crusade against the "tyranny of fascists".
Chodankar also claimed that some elitist right wing elements were in the process of filing an FIR with Goa police cyber cell.
Police came into the picture when former chairman of the CII Atul Pai Kane filed an FIR against him in March under sections 153(A), 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 125 of the People`s Representation Act and 66-A of the Information Technology Act.
Some of the sections are non-bailable in nature.
According to IIT alumnus Samir Kelekar, who is spearheading the protest, police have gone out of their way to harass Chodankar and claimed that they had timed their action synching it with Goa`s Lok Sabha polls.
"The complaint was received by police in March, but they cracked it only on the day when Goa went to polls, because the case had potential to damage BJP`s image. The documents clearly reveal this," Kelekar said.
"Chodankar did not instigate any community, he only expressed a fear about Modi for which he is being punished," Kelekar said.