Rahul Gandhi, today, pleaded not guilty in connection with a defamation case filed against him in 2017 for allegedly linking journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder with the “BJP-RSS ideology”. Gandhi, who has publicly announced his resignation as Congress president, was released on Rs 15,000 surety amount by a Mazgaon Metropolitan Magistrate court.
In February this year, RSS Swayam Sevak Dhrutiman Joshi had filed a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for defaming the RSS following the death of Gauri Lankesh.
Later, the Mazgaon court had issued summons to Gandhi and Yechury for questioning in connection with the case. The court had, however, dismissed the complaint against Sonia Gandhi and the CPI (M).
Lankesh, a senior journalist, was murdered at her residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
In the complainant, Dhrutiman Joshi stated that Rahul Gandhi, within 24-hours of the murder of the journalist, had criticised the RSS and alleged that “anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed.”
Joshi said that Sitaram Yechury was also heard and seen saying that it was the RSS ideology and the RSS men who killed Gauri Lankesh. “For a mere political score, the accused had unnecessarily dragged the name of RSS and it in a move to rake up negative sentiments in the minds of the people against the RSS,” the complaint stated.
Joshi had requested the court to charge the duo under Section 499 (defamation) and Section 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This is the second defamation petition against Rahul Gandhi in Maharashtra.
Another RSS activist Rajesh Kunte had in 2014 filed a defamation case against Gandhi over a statement made by him at an election rally, where he had blamed the RSS for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.