When 21-year-old Palghar resident Shaheen Dhadha posted a Facebook update on Sunday, she could not have imagined she would be arrested over it. But, that’s exactly what happened to the science graduate, whose post denounced the statewide bandh following the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
If that wasn’t enough, the Palghar police went on to arrest her 20-year-old friend, Rainu Shrinivasan, who had merely ‘liked’ the status, which read: “Today Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.”
The police action was in response to a complaint by Bhushan Sankhe, Shiv Sena president for Palghar, a town located 87km from Mumbai. On Sunday, 30 to 40 unidentified persons also vandalised Dhadha’s uncle’s hospital in Palghar.
The two girls were booked under IPC sections 295A (hurting religious sentiments), 505(2) (promoting enmity or ill-will between classes) and section 66A of the Information Technology Act (sending offensive messages through communication services). Section 295A was later dropped and the two were released on a bail of Rs. 15,000 each.
The case caused widespread outrage on social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, with netizens denouncing the extreme measure taken by the cops.
The sentiment was echoed by chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, who asked Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to take action against the police personnel responsible. Maharashtra’s director general of police, Sanjeev Dayal, also ordered an inquiry into the arrests.