Days after coming out of jail on bail in the crowdfunding case, Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale turned to Twitter today (May 12) to rant and rave that the state’s BJP government had engaged in a witch hunt against him. After spending months in jail, the TMC spokesperson was granted bail by a special court on May 6, 2023.
Jailed for misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 1.07 crore, the TMC leader claimed in his thread of tweets posted today that the Gujarat Police and the ED arrested him, on the direction of the BJP, in a case of Rs 500.
I’m back after spending 4.5 months in Ahmedabad Central Jail.
Because the Gujarat Police & the ED unleashed on me by the BJP arrested me in a case of Rs. 500. filed by a Gujarat Govt official claiming to be a donor.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) May 12, 2023
“Of the 1700 people that crowdfunded me between 2019-20, a complaint of Rs. 500 by ONE donor (incidentally a Gujarat Govt official) was used to charge me with “money laundering,” he claimed adding that he is confident of his innocence and has immense faith in the judiciary.
It may be recalled that the TMC spokesperson was arrested by the ED under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). While dismissing his bail plea in January this year the court observed that prima facie it appears that Gokhale had utilised the funds raised in crowdfunding for his personal expenses.
He continued his tirade against the BJP by declaring Gujarat to be “BJP’s laboratory for persecution” and accusing Gujarat police of working against him at the party’s orders.
“I’m proud that despite several attempts by the BJP to get me to jump into their “washing machine”, I kept my integrity & chose to suffer prison instead,” Gokhale tweeted.
The TMC leader further claimed that he was attacked in jail on four occasions. Insinuating that the attacks were carried out on him on the instruction of the BJP, Gokhale said, “the main purpose of BJP in jailing me was to try and silence me. I feel sorry for them if they assumed that I’m as weak as their coterie of “washing machine”-returned leaders.”
In his subsequent tweet, he heaped praises at Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek Banerjee and other TMC leaders for standing by him in the hour of need. He thanked his ‘guardian angel’ Derek O’Brien for supporting him and his family throughout.
“Backing down from a righteous battle is not in our DNA,” he claimed, adding that he is “back and ready to fight the good fight.”
Gujarat HC dismisses Gokhale’s bail plea in the crowdfunding case
Notably, in January this year, the Gujarat High Court news/gujarat-high-court-denies-bail-saket-gokhale-funds-used-personal-expense” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>dismissed the bail application filed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale observing that prima facie it appears that Gokhale had utilised the funds raised through crowdfunding for his personal expenses.
Noting that the case is of the nature of fraud and cheating and that the investigation is still going on and that the necessary evidence is to be recovered, the court denied bail to the TMC leader.
On December 29, Gokhale was arrested in Delhi by the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch. Gokhale is accused of misappropriating Rs 1.07 crore collected from the public through crowd-funding. Saket Gokhale was charged under sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), and 467 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code.
ED arrests TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale and his repeated arrests
TMC leader Saket Gokhale was arrested by the Gujarat Police in December last year for siphoning off money in the name of activism. The police had found accounts linked to Gokhale where he was receiving money, which he claimed was being used for legal fees for activism-related cases but were instead being used for personal expenses. Before that, he was arrested by Gujarat police for spreading fake news about PM Modi.
On January 25, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Gokhale under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in Ahmedabad.
While he was denied bail earlier, a court in Ahmedabad granted him regular bail on Saturday, ensuring his release from Ahmedabad jail where he was lodged since his arrest. On Tuesday, TMC leader Derek O’Brien posted a photograph of Gokhale on Twitter after his release, saying that he is “unbroken and ready to fight the good fight.”