Filmmaker Avinash Das was arrested in Ahmedabad early Wednesday, a day after he was arrested by Ahmedabad police for allegedly posting a photo on social media of Federal Home Minister Amit Shah with Jharkhand IAS Officer Pooja Singhal, who was recently arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in money laundering.
On May 8, Das posted a photo of Shah and Singhal talking to each other during a public event in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand in 2017. Singhal was arrested by the ED on May 11 this year after she made raids in several places in India over money laundering.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Chaitanya Mandalik, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Ahmedabad City Police said, “It is the duty of every Indian citizen to respect our national flag. Our social media team was on standby when we got to know director Avinash Das who posted a show Inappropriate for our national flag on social media and thus insulting it.”
He also published a picture of the Federal Minister of the Interior in a way that harms his reputation. The FIR in this regard was filed with the DCB Police Station (Crime Detection Branch). After several attempts, Das was arrested in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon and transferred to Ahmedabad. He was officially arrested at 4am on Wednesday and legal proceedings are now underway. “We are seeking pretrial detention for seven days,” Mendelek added.
Mandlik said the initial investigation revealed that Das had made numerous “fake and misleading posts” in the past on his social media accounts.
We’ve had an informal discussion with Das so far and he hasn’t been able to respond clearly, so further questioning will reveal the facts. He has a history of making fake and false posts on social media. He posted a photo on social media of people lying on the ground during the Covid pandemic and wrote the caption as “Somewhere in Gujarat”, but the photo was elsewhere. Likewise, he has posted many fake photos and posts in the post. We also found a post in which he described Hindu deities in an obscene way.”
In an FIR filed at DCB Police Station in Ahmedabad on May 13, Das was booked under Section 469 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on charges of forgery to damage a person’s reputation. In the same FIR, Das was also booked under sections to prevent insulting the National Honor Act for allegedly sharing a “distorted photo of a woman wearing a tricolor” on Facebook.
Das has applied to the Bombay High Court, Ahmedabad Sessions Court, Gujarat High Court and High Court to seek pre-emptive bail. However, the courts rejected his petitions while his case was pending in the Supreme Court on July 22.
Das conveyed to the Gujarat High Court an offer to issue an unconditional apology for the social media posts, but the court rejected it and ruled that it was “clear at first sight that the act (allegedly an insult to the national flag)” was “deliberate and unintentional”.
Asked about Das’s offer of apology, Mandalek said, “Apologies are not accepted in legal matters, and the arrest has been made to further legal procedures. We will request pre-trial detention and interrogate him in relation to the posts he has uploaded in the past as well.”
Das hails from Darbhanga in Bihar and is the director of the critically acclaimed films Anaarkali of Aarah, Netflix series She and Zee5 Raat Baaki Hai.