Gopal Italia, leader of the Gujarat branch of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), appeared before Delhi police and the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday after allegedly making derogatory comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
NCW chair Rekha Sharma had subpoenaed Italia for using “abusive and indecent language” in relation to an alleged video in which Italia was able to call PM Modi “neech aadmi”. Sharma said his comment was “gendered, misogynistic and reprehensible”.
The NCW chief told reporters Italia had claimed in a verbal statement that he was not the person in the video. However, in his written response, he said he didn’t mean it that way. “His testimony and written testimony do not agree. He didn’t give a correct answer. I also told the police that action should be taken against him because he created an atmosphere that affects the law and order situation.”
AAP supporters protested in front of the NCW building and allegedly tried to enter the premises, PTI news agency reports. The police had to be called to arrest her, sources said.
The BJP slammed the Kejriwal-led party for making a derogatory remark against Prime Minister Modi, saying it was an “insult to India’s democratic process and the state”.
Meanwhile, AAP has defended its party leader in Gujarat, saying Italia is being targeted by the BJP over an old video as he comes from a poor family and belongs to the Patidaar community. “You are so shaken by the fear of defeat in Gujarat that you are releasing an old video of our State President Gopal Italia when he was not even a member of the AAP to target him now that he is from a poor family and Patidaar community,” AAP national spokesman Sanjay Singh said at a news conference.
Delhi police sources told CNN-News18 that Italia was being released and no FIR had been registered against him. “He’s not even going to be jailed. Only a basic investigation will be conducted as Delhi Police have received an official complaint from NCW,” sources said.
Italy’s troubled past
However, the latest row is not the first time such an incident has been reported involving Italia, a former state government employee who was stationed at the Dhandhuka taluka Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s office under the Ahmedabad Collective.
In 2017, Gopal Italia made national headlines after he threw a shoe at then Minister of State for Home Affairs Pradipsinh Jadeja, who accused corruption in the state government.
That same year, he was arrested by the Ahmedabad Criminal Investigation Department for allegedly posing as a police officer to call Deputy Prime Minister Nitin Patel and circulate audio clips of the conversation on social media. Italia once served as a police officer.
After his arrest, Italia claimed he had confirmed that he worked as a clerk in Dhandhuka Taluka’s Prant (Revenue) Office after resigning as a police officer in 2015.
He was appointed Vice President of the AAP for Gujarat in 2020. Later that same year he was appointed State President of the party.
In 2021, Italia surrendered to police in a case related to an unlawful assembly and scuffle during a public meeting in Ahmedabad attended by Atishi, MLA Atishi from Delhi. An FIR was registered against Italia and three others following an alleged scuffle with police at the public meeting. Three other suspects had previously turned themselves in to the police and were released on bail by the court. Italia’s request for early bail was rejected by a court of hearings, after which he referred the matter to the High Court.
In August this year, the National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights (NCPCR) alleged that Gopal Italia and AAP leader Isudan Gadhvi were using an underage boy for political gain and sought legal action against them. “The complaint mentions that the minor was recruited as a worker in said political party and is used for protests and child labor for political purposes. The complaint also mentions that the minor was used by the party to further influence other people to join the party,” the children’s rights organization said.
Recently an FIR was registered against Gopal Italia for allegedly using derogatory words against Gujarat BJP chief CR Patil and Minister Harsh Sanghavi during a rally in Surat.
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