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Gujarat police to probe anti-Atal SMS messages
Sheela Bhatt in Mumbai | June 24, 2004 13:11 IST
Last Updated: June 24, 2004 14:47 IST
The Gujarat police has launched an investigation into SMS [short messaging service] messages ridiculing former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but the case does not even fall in their jurisdiction says former Union law minister Arun Jaitley.
"The SMS messages are absolutely in bad taste," Jaitley said, "but I am not sure if the state police can investigate them. Telecommunications is a central subject. Besides, sending messages as such is not a crime."
On Tuesday, Keshubhai Patel, former Gujarat chief minister and staunch critic of incumbent Narendra Modi, told reporters that he was extremely upset by an 'obscene' SMS about Vajpayee doing the rounds of the state for the last two days.
The veteran Bharatiya Janata Party politician said his daughter-in-law Manjuben had received one such 'obscene' message. Patel complained that the state government was not taking any action against the sender of these messages and that there exists a 'mini-Emergency' in Gujarat, because of which even legislators are afraid to express their opinions.
Gujarat Director General of Police A K Bhargava has ordered an investigation to find out who sent these messages.
A senior BJP leader in Gandhinagar said, "It will not be difficult to find out who sent these SMS, but we are not sure if the senders will cooperate with the police."
"Even Keshubhai will resent it if the police visit his relatives," the senior BJP leader added. "Nevertheless we are taking this matter seriously because the timing of the SMS suggests that someone who is against Modi is behind them."
He argued that the Modi camp would not risk sending such messages at a time when the chief minister is under pressure in the party.
Obscene SMS messages are not new to Gujarat. During the general election, unprintable messages against Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh were in circulation in the state.
The Gujarat home ministry is not sure if sending or forwarding such messages is a crime.
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