Indian opposition leader arrested for insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi with pun

File photo of Indian opposition leader Pawan Khera

An Indian opposition leader was arrested Thursday at New Delhi airport after being accused of insulting India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a pun between the last names of the dignitary and the billionaire Gautam Adani.

Pawan Kheraa leading figure in the opposition Congress Party (INC), was released on bail hours later by order of the Supreme Court of India, but the party called the incident a 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 last Monday, changing the middle name of the president “Damodardas” to the first name of the Billionaire Adaniwhose group has collapsed on the stock market below 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)
File photo of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, at a political event in New Delhi (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi) (ADNAN ABIDI/)

The leader of the Congress Party, a formation that has called for an investigation into the accusations against the Adani group in the face of veiled support from the Indian government, later stated that it was about a lapse.

Inadvertent slip or pun, 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 Minister of the Interior, Amit Shah, took advantage of 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 newspaper. Indian Express.

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)
Archive photo of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri) (RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/)

“Free speech is slowly weakening in Indiabut the AFTER freedom of expression is fast dying out,” Jairam Ramesh, the Congress Party’s secretary general 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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