Rajasthan: NGO head held over ‘threat’ to public servants, family says framed

Police in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district have arrested a 62-year-old man, state president of an NGO called ‘Public Against Corruption Society Rajasthan’, for charges including allegedly threatening public servants, misbehaving with women healthcare workers and disobedience of order of a public servant.

Family members of 62-year-old Devendra Singh Faujdar allege that he has been ‘framed’ in a false case owing to the fact that he raised issues pertaining to public interest and highlighted shortcomings in the public healthcare system in Bharatpur.

“My father has been framed in a false case because he has been constantly raising issues of public interest and exposed shortcomings in the local healthcare system. This is a wrongful and prejudiced attempt to incarcerate and intimidate an individual for demanding basic human rights in times of medical needs on behalf of people who don’t have a voice to do so for themselves,” said Vaishnavi, Faujdar’s daughter.

According to the police, Faujdar was arrested on Thursday, while an FIR against him was registered at Lakhanpur police station on June 3 under sections including those pertaining to outraging modesty of women.

Faujdar, who was vocal on Facebook and regularly conducted FB live sessions, had last month streamed a video outside the primary health centre in Hantra, Bharatpur, where he showed empty liquor bottles lying outside the facility. Following the video, the Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) Bharatpur issued a show cause notice to the in-charge of the PHC.

“The state president of Public Against Corruption Society Rajasthan Bharat (sic) has issued a video on Facebook media and has informed that the PHC Hantra has become a den of alcoholics, the staff is alcoholic and he has also shown empty liquor bottles in the video. He has asked the state government to immediately suspend such staff and depute others,” says the show cause notice issued by Bharatpur CMHO Kaptan Singh.

Documents show that in other instances as well, the CMHO had issued show cause notices to health department officials on the basis of other videos shot by Faujdar.

In a letter addressed to the Bharatpur district collector on June 1, Faujdar had alleged CMHO Singh of threatening him over WhatsApp that he will be framed in false cases and a case will be lodged by women healthcare workers.

Two days later, police registered an FIR on the basis of Singh’s complaint. The FIR said that three women healthcare workers including ANMs had submitted an application saying that Faujdar abused them and behaved indecently with them. It also said that due to uncalled and insulting remarks made by Faujdar, the morale of the health department staff has gone down.

The FIR added that Faujdar has twisted facts and presented them in his Facebook live sessions, made videos of women healthcare staff and that his allegations about dismal healthcare services have been contradicted by local public representatives.

“After recording the statements of the women, prima facie the charges were found to be true and Faujdar was arrested on Thursday and sent to judicial custody by the court. Preliminary investigation suggests that he misbehaved with women and would confront them saying why they went home and wouldn’t stay at the health centre for 24 hours. The son of one of the women had also made a video of the incident which suggested he behaved inappropriately and threatened them,” said Panjab Singh, SHO, Lakhanpur police station and the investigating officer in the case.

Police said that Faujdar was arrested under different sections of the IPC. Bharatpur SP Devendra Kumar Bishnoi said that the allegations of Faujdar being framed are untrue. “The accused was arrested after due investigation were done and charges were found to be genuine,” said Bishnoi.

Repeated attempts to reach the CMHO through calls and text messages remained unanswered.

Faujdar’s family members maintained that he is being harassed because of the videos.

“I am appalled at the deceitful nature of the arrest as he was lured to the police station on the pretext of collecting a notice,” said Vaishnavi.

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