Rajasthan Police arrested the state president of an NGO called ‘Public Against Corruption Society Rajasthan’ for allegedly threatening public servants, misbehaving with women healthcare workers and disobeying the order of a public servant.
Devendra Singh Faujdar (62), who hails from Bharatpur district, was arrested on Thursday. As per the police, FIR with sections including those pertaining to outraging the modesty of women has been lodged against him, in the Lakhanpur police station on June 3.
Faujdar’s family members have alleged that he has been “framed” because he raised issues of public interest which highlighted the poor healthcare infrastructure in Bharatpur.
"My father has been falsely implicated in a criminal case. This is an attempt to intimidate an individual who has been demanding basic human rights for the voiceless. It seems that the local authorities have followed up on their threats. However, I am sure that justice will be served and authorities will make adequate healthcare available in Bharatpur post this incident,” Vaishnavi, Faujdar’s daughter told Outlook.
During the Second Covid wave, Faujdar visited different rural areas in the state and highlighted the lack of infrastructure in health centres via Facebook live sessions. In one such sessions he made a live video outside the primary health centre in Hantra, Bharatpur, which showed that empty liquor bottles were lying outside the centre. Following his post, the Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) Bharatpur took cognizance of the issue and issued a show-cause notice to the in-charge of the Hantra PHC.
The show-cause notice issued by Bharatpur CMHO Kaptan Singh read, “The state president of Public Against Corruption Society Rajasthan Bharat through a video on Facebook has informed that the PHC Hantra has turned into a camping site for alcoholics. The video claims that the staff is also alcoholic and he has also shown empty liquor bottles in the video."
Further in the notice, Kaptan Singh had directed the state government to immediately suspend such staff and depute new staff.
However, a few days later, Faujdar wrote a letter to the Bharatpur district collector on June 1 in which he alleged that CMHO Kaptan Singh had allegedly threatened him over WhatsApp and told him that he will be framed in false cases with the help of women healthcare workers such as Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANM).
On June 3, two days after his letter to the collector, an FIR was registered by the Bharatpur police on the basis of the complaint of CMHO Kaptan Singh. The FIR mentions that three women healthcare workers including ANMs had submitted an application alleging that Faujdar abused them and behaved improperly and has brought down the morale of the health department staff with his actions.
The FIR also mentions that Faujdar has twisted facts in his Facebook live sessions, made videos of women healthcare staff and his claims have been contradicted by public representatives from these areas.
As per the official press note issued by the Rajasthan Police, Faujdar was arrested under Sections 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 189 (Threat of injury to public servant) of the IPC.
"The arrest has been made after recording the statements of the women health care workers. He has been sent to judicial custody by the court till July 2, 2021. Preliminary investigation reveals that he misbehaved with women as the son of one of the women had also made a video of the incident which suggested he (Faujdar) also threatened them,” Panjab Singh, SHO, Lakhanpur police station who is also the investigating officer of the case told Outlook.
The police have claimed that the accused was arrested after the charges were found to be genuine. However, his family members allege that he is being harassed because his videos revealed the deficiencies in the local healthcare system which irked the administration.
"My father has spent the last few years being the voice of the farmers and the poor in our village. Every citizen of our country has a right to adequate medical care, and that too without being asked which caste they belong to. The pandemic has shown us the disparity that exists between big cities and rural areas, and all my father has been trying to do is hold the government responsible and ensure that leaders follow through with promises made during elections and make sure villagers have access to water, electricity, medical care and means to their livelihood,” Vaishnavi said responding to her father’s arrest.