Probe begins on ‘harassment’ claims for ‘anti-Modi’ posts

Panaji: The Goa government’s department of public grievances has started looking into the harassment complaints of a shipbuilding professional Devu Chodankar, whose Facebook posts about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar created a stir last year.

Modi was then the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Parrikar was the Goa chief minister.

In May 2014, the Goa Police Cyber Cell had threatened Chodankar with arrest for allegedly cooking up a conspiracy vis-a-vis creating unrest in satte by posting anti-Modi and anti-Parrikar posts on Facebook.

The posts, uploaded during the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls said: “There is an imminent threat of Holocaust as it happened in Gujarat th(r)ough the garb of cunning government policies of Parrikar.”

Chodankar, 32, a Goan settled in Vishakhapatanam, had filed the complaint on May 21, 2014, amid attempts made by police to arrest him for his alleged plans to stoke “communal and social disharmony” in Goa, but a formal a probe has begun only on April 8 this year.

A communication from Goa government’s under secretary for Public Grievances Fransquinha Oliveira to the Director General of Police on April 8, asks the top cop to “look into the matter and redress the grievance of the complainant and action taken may please be informed to the complainant under intimation to this office within three weeks. Prompt action will be highly appreciated”.

A copy of the letter is available with IANS.

In his complaint to the department, Chodankar had alleged that a false FIR had been registered as an attempt to victimise people of secular outlook by those who are “fascist and communal”.

In response to the controversial post, former head of the Confederation of Indian Industries in Goa Atul Pai Kane had filed an FIR, even as Chodankar subsequenly deleted the post and also uploaded an apology.

Attempts to arrest Chodankar snowballed into a controversy, which eventually deterred police from arresting the shipbuilding professional.

With the case filed under the Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act, is now virtually non-tenable following the striking down of the law by the Supreme Court in March this year, Chodankar’s lawyer Jatin Naik told IANS that the enquiry belatedly started by the state government’s Department of Public Grievances may be a little too late in the day.

“It is a clear case of justice delayed, which is in effect justice denied,” Naik said.