Congress General Secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot said that Gujarat police and local Intelligence Bureau (IB) investigators snooped around the hotel rooms where he had a meeting on Monday with Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who, earlier in day, joined his party.
Gehlot has accused the police and IB on spying and taking CCTV footage of his meeting from the hotel Ummed in Ahmedabad to track Congress’ activities ahead of the state polls to be held in December.
The former Rajasthan Chief Minister told The Indian Express that the hotel authorities told him “IB and police people inquired who all came… to meet whom. Then they took away CCTV footage and gave it to the media… Rahul Gandhi se mile, kis se mile, kya hua… inko kya matlab hai. Kaun kis se mila inko kya matlab hai. Koi absconder hai kya? (Whether someone met Rahul Gandhi or others, what happened, how is that any of their concern. Is anyone an absconder?)”
Ummed Hotel accepted to have given the footage when questioned by The Indian Express, but said that none of the rooms were searched. Vikram Singh Shekhawat, chief security officer of the hotel, said to the publication, “No room was searched by police but there were many police and IB officials deployed in the hotel throughout the day due to VVIP visits. The police did ask for CCTV footage and, after consulting our top management, we provided it to them. This was all for security reasons.”
“They wanted to know who stayed in which room. Whether Hardik stayed… in which room Ashok Gehlot stayed. It is the first time I have seen people stooping to this level,” Gehlot said he was told by the hotel authorities.
Hardik Patel has not yet joined the Congress and said that his fights against BJP’s rule in Gujarat does not mean he is joining the Opposition.
If the Gujarat government has used the Intelligence Bureau, an independent body, and the state police for its own political agendas, the act is highly condemnable. The IB’s role is to garner intelligence from within the country and execute counter-intelligence tasks, including terrorism. For the government to use the body for snooping at Opposition meetings is abominable.