Following his deplaning from a flight to Raipur, where he was scheduled to attend the party’s plenary session, Congress leader Pawan Khera was detained by Assam Police on Thursday in connection with an FIR (First Information Report) about alleged statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In response to numerous FIRs filed against him in Assam as well as in Uttar Pradesh, Khera, who made headlines this week for allegedly forgetting the name of the PM’s father during a press conference, filed a bail plea with the Supreme Court.
Khera was granted by the SC to be released on conditional bail till February 28. The Assam and Uttar Pradesh governments were asked to submit a response on the clubbing of several FIRs against Khera. The Supreme Court, also ordered that the Congress leader’s petition for protection from arrest and the clubbing of FIRs be heard on February 27.
Abhishek Singhvi, a senior counsel and Khera’s party colleague, earlier informed the SC that Khera had made comments during a press conference. ‘He (Khera) has made statements in a press conference. He has made certain statements which I cannot say in the court but I personally would not have made’.
In the midst of a political spat, Singhvi brought the case before a bench presided over by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and asked for an urgent hearing. Khera had made “derogatory statements” against a democratically elected prime minister, the Assam Police said in court.
His counsel contended that ‘because he had expressed regret for his comments towards the prime minister, no detention was necessary. Khera was travelling with a number of other members of his party to Raipur for the Congress plenary session, when he was detained.’
“He was detained by the Delhi Police on a request by Assam Police. We were just extending support to them. The arrest has been made by them,” a senior Delhi Police officer said.
At the Haflong police station in Assam, a case against Khera was initiated under many sections of the Indian Criminal Code, including 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national interest), 500 (punishment for defamation), and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace).
As the head of the Congress’ media department was being deplaned from a flight from New Delhi to Raipur, Congress leaders staged dramatic displays of protest on the tarmac and refused to allow Khera to be carried away without an arrest warrant.
“We are all on the @IndiGo6E flight 6E 204 to Raipur and all of a sudden my colleague @Pawankhera has been asked to deplane,’ Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate, who was also on the flight, said on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader K C Venugopal also spoke out and accused the BJP of targeting the party’s plenary session in the Chhattisgarh capital. “After half an hour, Delhi Police comes and says they have to hand him (Khera) over to Assam Police. We asked if there is an FIR, arrest warrant or any document, but nothing is there, only oral orders,” the Congress’ general secretary in-charge organisation said.
Due to the delay, the passengers will be transferred to another flight bound for Raipur, the Indigo crew informed. The airline has stated that it was acting on the advice of the relevant authorities.