IndiaScoops.com Bureau | Mumbai | 16 JULY 2018: Two Mumbai Catholics who had approached the Malwani Police Station in suburban Mumbai with a written complaint against Mumbai-North BJP MP Gopal Shetty after his provocative statements (Read Here) against the community at an Eid Milan program organised by the Shia Kabrastan committee at Malwani, have now approached the Bombay High Court and the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (ACMM) court at Borivili.
The incident which took place in the first week of July, led to a public outcry among the Christian and Catholic community in Mumbai which reverberated all over the country.
Gerard Lobo and Mavis Fernandes both residents of Orlem at Malad West today filed their pleas in the Bombay High Court and the ACMM’s court, through their lawyers, but refused to speak to the media on the issue. The duo received several abusive and crank calls in the past two weeks after they approached the police and had to even change their mobile numbers IndiaScoops.com has learnt.
“We will speak to the media, after our pleas are admitted by the respective courts and notices issued to the respondents. It is for the court to now verify our complaint and take cognizance,” Lobo told IndiaScoops.com.
IndiaScoops.com has learnt that the duo approached the courts after the Malwani police failed to take any action whatsoever in spite of a huge public hue and cry. The Malwani police even refused to entertain the complainants and ill-treated them, it is learnt, under pressure from the BJP MP.
The Bombay High Court plea is a writ petition, while the ACCM court case is a criminal complaint or MECR under various provisions of the IPC, Lobo said.
A video clip of Shetty shot by a mobile phone had gone viral on Facebook and social media, with locals insisting that it was not a slip of the tongue, as Shetty later claimed (Read Here), but Shetty was deliberately and intentionally trying to create a rift between the Muslims and Christians in the area, and instigate the Muslims against the local Catholics who have been living in harmony with the Muslims for a very long time.
There is a sizable Catholic population in Malad with Malwani, Aksa, Madh and Gorai being home to thousands of East Indian Catholics who are the original inhabitants of the area, being farmers and fishermen. Many kolis from the fishing community in Madh, Aksa and Gorai are also Christians.
Speaking to IndiaScoops.com Gerard Lobo and Mavis Fernandes both residents of Orlem at Malad West had said they sent a written complaint to the Malwani police station asking the police to take appropriate action against Shetty under sections 153A and 504 as well as other relevant sections of the IPC. They had also demanded to know if police permission was taken for the program where Shetty made the provocative statements.
Lobo had told IndiaScoops.com that the Malwani police refused to accept the written complaint or give us an acknowledgement and asked for the CD with the recording of Shetty’s speech. “We have now sent the complaint along with the CD of Shetty’s speech, and are waiting for the police to act. The duty officer said the senior police inspector was busy and he would first discuss the matter with the Malwani Sr PI before accepting the complaint,” Lobo had then told IndiaScoops.com, alleging that the Malwani Police are unwilling to accept and act on their complaint.
The Bharat Citizens Action Forum (BCAF), a forum for the promotion of inter-religious harmony and justice, has sent a legal notice to Shetty – demanding an unconditional apology. In case he (Shetty) does not tender an unconditional apology, we will approach the appropriate court in this regard,” Firoz Khan, general secretary of the BCAF had told IndiaScoops.com.
Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh strongly condemned the verbal attack (Read Here) by BJP MP Gopal Shetty against Indian Christians.
The incident occurred after Shetty in a public speech had incorrectly claimed that Indian Christians did not contribute to the Freedom struggle and sided with the British. When the gaffe was pointed out to him the next day and he was informed that the community is up in arms, with his speech video gone viral on Facebook, Shetty threw a fit. “Using vulgar and abusive language, he retorted: let them go screw themselves, ‘they (the Christian community) are anyway useless, and good for nothing, they don’t vote for us (the BJP)’. This was revealed to IndiaScoops.com, the next day by a source who was present near Shetty when this happened.
Shetty later issued a clarification (Read Here) stating that he was misquoted by the media and he didn’t intend to offend any community. His quotes were reported out of context, he said. He however refused to apologise saying he had done nothing wrong and it was his personal opinion. Shetty has vehemently denied any wrong doing. After senior party leaders criticized his speech, he offered to resign but a few hours later did a U-TURN and claimed there was no need to resign for routine comments.
However, in a video clip doing the rounds on Facebook, Shetty is clearly heard saying that the Christian community did not contribute to the Freedom struggle in India.
His media statement came only as an afterthought, after Christians raised a hue and cry. He refused to take calls seeking clarifications about his statement which has been recorded on video. The media statement issued by Shetty sounds hollow and there is no tone of an apology, Gerard Lobo a prominent Catholic social worker from Malad opined.
This is not the first time, Shetty has been caught with his foot in his mouth. On two more occasions, he ended up shooting from the hip, leading to a local uproar in the area.
Around Feb 2018, Gopal Shetty was in the firing line when his ‘fashion to commit suicide‘ quote, concerning ‘farmers’ suicides went viral across the nation. Shetty had said, “All farmer suicides are not only because of hunger and unemployment. There is a fashion, a trend is on. If Maharashtra government is giving Rs 5 lakh, another government is giving Rs 7 lakh, Rs 8 lakh. There is a competition going on to give money to farmers,” he said at an event at Borivli.
Shetty’s remarks came at a time when the BJP-ruled Maharashtra was reeling under an agrarian crisis with 124 farmers committing suicide in the state and caused a major embarrassment to CM Devendra Fadnavis’ government.