The Gujarat Police arrested filmmaker Avinash Das on Wednesday in a case related to sharing on Twitter a photo of Union Home Minister Amit Shah with arrested IAS officer Pooja Singhal, an official said.
A team of the Ahmedabad Crime Branch detained Das from his residence in Mumbai on Tuesday and brought him here in the early hours of Wednesday.
“Das was officially arrested at 4 am on Wednesday. We are now scanning his social media accounts to check if he had posted some other offensive material in the past. We will produce him in a court in the afternoon to seek his remand,” Ahmedabad Crime Branch’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Chaitanya Mandlik said.
The crime branch in a release on Wednesday said it has found another tweet posted by Das which appears to be offensive and could hurt sentiments of Hindus. In the Hindi tweet, which was mentioned in the release, Das tried to convey in a satirical way that he cannot give up alcohol because Gods such as Brahma and Ram reside in different types of liquor, like whiskey and brandy.
It was was posted on Das’ Twitter handle at 2.19 pm on May 1, 2016. Das had directed the 2017 film ‘Anaarkali of Aarah’, starring Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi, and the 2021 movie ‘Raat Baaki Hai’. He had also helmed a Netflix series called ‘She’.
The Ahmedabad Crime Branch had registered an FIR against the filmmaker under Section 469 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code as well as provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and the Information Technology Act, as he had also posted on his Instagram and Facebook accounts another photo of a woman wearing the national flag.
The FIR against 46-year-old Das was registered in June after he shared a photo showing Singhal, who had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case, whispering something to Shah. As per the FIR, in a caption to the photo Das had claimed the picture was taken a few days before Singhal’s arrest, while it was actually taken in 2017.
The crime branch had alleged this was done with an intention to tarnish Shah’s image. The filmmaker was also booked for insulting national honour by sharing on his Instagram and Facebook accounts a photo of a woman wearing the national flag.
A sessions court here in June rejected Das’ plea for anticipatory bail, observing that he had deliberately claimed the photo of Shah with Singhal was taken a few days before the latter’s arrest, with the intention to “tarnish the image of the Home Minister”. The photo of a woman wrapped in the national flag showed Das’ “mental perverseness”, the court had said in its order.
Later, the Gujarat High Court had also rejected his anticipatory bail application while observing that Das had violated provisions of the Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act by circulating a painting showing a person wearing a dress made of the tricolour. The Bombay High Court had also rejected Das’ transit anticipatory bail application.