The BJP-AAP tussle ahead of the Gujarat Assembly Election further escalated after a video of Aam Aadmi Party’s State Chief Gopal Italia purportedly insulting PM Narendra Modi surfaced online earlier this week. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the video “exposes AAP and shows what is their intention,” and further added,”Prime Minister Modi hails from Gujarat and using such remarks against him is an insult to Gujarat too.” AAP’s Raghav Chaddha said that Italia was “targeted possibly because he is from the Patel community”.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma had summoned Italia for using “abusive and indecent language” against PM Modi and said his comment was “gender based, misogynist and condemnable,” on Thursday. During his visit to the commission’s Delhi office Italia was taken by the police triggering a Twitter war of words with the AAP and BJP leaders.
In this context, AAP leader Sanjay Singh shared a photograph showing a rather distressed Italia behind the bars with the caption in Hindi, “Why does @BJP4India hate Patel community so much? The popularity of @Gopal_Italia started increasing in Gujarat, the fear of defeat in the elections started haunting, then in Delhi BJP police arrested Gopal Italia. Patel Samaj will surely avenge this insult.” Archived version of the same can be seen here.
Several other social media users shared the photograph claiming to show Italia under “arrest”. Newchecker found the image to be old and unrelated to the events from yesterday.
We began the investigation by determining the veracity of the viral photo showing Italia behind the bars and conducted a Google reverse image search on the same. This led us to a report by Vibes of India, dated May 2, 2022, titled ‘BJP Attacks AAP Workers in Surat; Gopal Italia Injured Badly.’
Featuring the viral photo of Italia, the report elaborated on a conflict between the AAP and the BJP workers in Surat. It stated that AAP members, including Italia, had gone to the BJP headquarters in Surat to “question” a violent clash that happened a day before. “BJP leadership had called the police as well as the office bearers of its Yuva Morcha and Minority Morcha. When the AAP leaders reached the spot, the scuffle broke out and the police also tried to arrest some of them,” it added. Several AAP members including Italia were arrested later that evening.
A keyword search for “Italia Surat Arrest” yielded a YouTube video by TV9 Gujarati, dated May 2, 2022 titled ‘10 AAP workers including Gopal Italia arrested under rioting case in Surat| TV9News.’ Around 20 seconds into the video we spotted the viral photo of Italia.
Further a report by Gujarati news outlet Divya Bhaskar also carried the viral image while detailing the incident which culminated with AAP members, including Italia, being booked for rioting.
We could thus conclude that the viral photo showing a distressed Gopal Italia behind the bars is actually from May, 2022 and is not related to his alleged arrest on Thursday.
Newschecker continued our investigation to ascertain why Italia was taken by the Delhi Police during his visit to the NCW office yesterday.
A simple Google search for “Gopal Italia” led us to multiple reports from October 13, 2022 on the AAP’s Gujarat chief “detention” by the Delhi Police on Thursday. One such report by NDTV titled ‘Gujarat AAP Chief Released After 3-Hour Detention Amid Row Over PM Video’, stated that Italia “was released around three hours after he was detained from the National Commission of Women’s Delhi office this afternoon over a controversial video in which he was allegedly heard using derogatory language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Notably, Italia was summoned by the NCW over an old video which shows him allegedly using abusive terms for PM Narendra Modi. The commission claimed that the AAP leader’s language was “gender-based” and “misogynistic”. He was at the NCW’s Delhi office on Thursday in connection to the same.
Following his release, Italia was quoted by NDTV as saying, “Instead of hearing me out, the NCW chairperson called the police and sent me to the police station. This shows the entire BJP is plotting against the Patel community. They had many of us shot. They are jealous of Patidars. They want to harass me at any cost. The cops admitted they had orders from above to detain me.”
Italia was reportedly detained “to control the situation” outside the NCW office, where several AAP workers had gathered in his support. “We received a call from NCW officials alleging that Italia’s supporters were creating a ruckus at the NCW office. We went to the spot and had to detain him to control the situation. He was released after two-and-a-half hours,” Indian Express quoted a senior police officer as saying.
Gopal Italia Vs NCW
During a press conference after his release, Gopal Italia accused the NCW chairperson of threatening him and that the NCW was not interested in the topic of the summons. “Their only interest was to threaten me, scare me, abuse me and once it was over they asked the police to take and keep me at the police station.” He further linked the entire incident to the upcoming Gujarat polls and said, “the Patidar community is against the BJP in the election… they are supporting the AAP .. the BJP hates the Patidar community, (BJP) is jealous of them… “ The AAP leader further added that the BJP has been wondering how a common Patidar youth like him was challenging the saffron party.
The NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, however, alleged that over 100 people came outside her office in support of Italia and threatened her for summoning him over a purported video where he used derogatory language for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sharma said, “He denied getting a summon but his reply is ready. He also denied his presence in the video but in his reply, he accepts tweeting. He had claimed it wasn’t him in the video.His statement and written statement don’t match. He hasn’t given a proper reply. I’ve told the police too that action should be taken against him because he was creating an atmosphere to impact the law and order situation. His supporters attempted to enter (the NCW office) forcefully.”
What exactly happened inside the NCW office, whether Sharma threatened Italia or was it the other way around can not be ascertained with the information available in the public domain so far. However, we could conclude that the viral image showing Italia behind the bars is not related to his detention yesterday.
Viral posts claiming that AAP leader Gopal Italia was “arrested” from the NCW’s Delhi office on Thursday are false. Italia was detained from the commission’s office and was released after a couple of hours. The image that is being shared is old and not related to the recent detention.
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