A 21 year old girl living in Palghar was arrested by the police for criticizing the bandh being enforced during Bal Thackeray’s funeral on Sunday. The girl made a post on Facebook which suggested that the bandh shouldn’t be enforced.
This drew the ire of the Shiv Sainiks and the Police. The police booked the girl under section 505(2) of the Indian constitution for statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes, according to the girl’s lawyer. Besides that, the police also arrested a friend who liked her Facebook status.The Times of India however, says that the girls were booked under Section 295 (a) of the IPC (for hurting religious sentiments ) and Section 64 (a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. If it is true that they were arrested for hurting religious sentiments, then the arrest is completely preposterous. 2000 Shiv Sainiks also managed to ransack an orthopedic clinic run by her uncle.
Justic Katju, Chairman of the Press Trust of India has written a scathing letter to Chief Minister of Maharashtra to condemn this illegal arrest because of a perfectly valid Facebook post. The girls have received bail and have been released. Social media was in an uproar because of this incident today and many strongly condemned the action by the Police.
What does this mean for our Online rights?
Posting a Facebook status which expresses dissent against a particular event is not illegal. It is perfectly within our rights to dissent, protest and write Facebook posts against something which we do not like. Clamping down on people who are registering their dissent peacefully and then arresting them for disturbing ‘religious’ views makes me feel uneasy about the objectivity of law enforcers in the country. The fact that party supporters ransacked a clinic has not been acted upon at all. There is a problem when the constitution is interpreted in this way to arrest people in what can be called an illegal manner. We need legislation which clearly establishes the online rights of the citizens now that more numbers of Indians are using social mediums to communicate and express their views than ever before.
Tell us how you feel about these arrests. Share your views in the comments.
Image Courtesy | Rawstory