File photo of Indian opposition leader Pawan Khera
An Indian opposition leader was arrested Thursday at New Delhi airport after being accused of insulting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a pun between the last names of the dignitary and billionaire Gautam Adani.
Pawan Khera, a leading figure from the opposition Congress Party (INC), was released on bail hours later by order of India’s Supreme Court, but the party called the incident an attack on freedom of expression.
“Today, our top leaders were traveling from Delhi to Raipur on an Indigo flight. They had boarded the plane when our leader Pawan Khera was asked to disembark and was later arrested,” the INC said on Twitter.
Khera referred to the Indian prime minister as “Narendra Gautamdas Modi” during a press conference on Monday, changing the middle name of the president “Damodardas” to that of the billionaire Adani, whose group has plunged on the stock market below the 100,000 million dollars after being accused of stock manipulation and stock fraud.
Khera’s statement would also allude to an alleged favorable treatment of the Adani group by the government and, in addition, would have been a comment to demand an investigation by a parliamentary committee against businessman Gautam Adani.
File photo of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, at a political event in New Delhi (REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)
The leader of the Congress Party, a formation that has called for an investigation into the accusations against the Adani group against the veiled support of the Indian government, later stated that it was a slip of the tongue.
Involuntary slip or play on words, Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saw in the phrase a serious offense to the dignity of the prime minister and the powerful Interior Minister, Amit Shah, took advantage last Monday to condemn what happened .
“For a prime minister so dear to us, the kind of language that has been used is something that I strongly condemn,” Shah said during a political rally in the northeastern state of Nagaland, according to statements reported by the Indian Express newspaper.
But the dialectical clash led to a complaint from a BJP member in the state of Assam, and the authorities dispatched a police team to arrest Khera.
File photo of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri)
“Freedom of speech is slowly weakening in India, but freedom AFTER speech is dying out fast,” Jairam Ramesh, the Congress Party’s general secretary in charge of communications, said on Twitter.
Last year, a Congress Party MP from the Indian state of Gujarat Jignesh Mevani, a member of the Dalit (untouchable) caste, was arrested after saying on Twitter that the prime minister worships Hindu fundamentalist Nathuram Godse “like a god.” confessed murderer of “mahatma” Gandhi, considered the father of India.
(With information from EFE and EuropaPress)
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