The case has now boiled down to the perils of having a generation that revels in the blatant use of abusive language. However, when 23-year-old Panchkula girl Henna Bakshi’s car was stolen from outside a friend’s house on August 11, the matter only revolved around theft. When on August 15, Henna took to venting her angst on the Facebook page of Traffic Police, Chandigarh, she might not have foreseen getting booked by the UT Police under section 66 A and 67 of Information Technology Act 2000, on charges of using offensive language through communication services.
Henna’s posts, which were later removed from the site, are said to be brimming with abusive content. On the other hand, Henna, an IAS aspirant and a national bravery award winner, said, “I did not abuse the Chandigarh police through my post on Facebook. Being an educated and responsible citizen, I only tried to highlight the plight of a common man.”
She claims that her provocation for using abuses against the policemen was the harassment that she had to face at the time of registering her complaint, after which she was “forced to post this comment.”
Most youngsters are content in the belief that Facebook and other such social networking sites have been created to aid them in the ‘freedom of expression’. But does this freedom entail use of explicit language?
HT City talks to some city youth and authorities to help decide the course of action for the debate.
Harjit Kaur, SHO (Station House Officer), Sector 19 police station [in-charge of
the police station that registered Henna’s complaint]
“The accusation that she (Henna) had to wait here is false. She called late in the night at 2 am, and yet an ASI (assistant sub-inspector) reached the spot in five minutes. But on reaching, he found that Henna didn’t have the details asked for. So, he waited for her in the morning at the police station but she turned up in the afternoon. Then how is the police to be blamed for the delay in registration of complaint? In our lives, there are many instances when we lose our cool. But losing one’s temperament and not thinking about the consequences of one’s actions is not justified. If youngsters have the right to elect the government when they are 18, then at her age, one should know how to talk in public.”
Vijay Kumar, DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) Traffic, Chandigarh
“I won’t be able to comment on Henna’s claims of facing harassment at the hands of the cops when she went to file her complaint at the police station, as I have still not read the details of the case. But yes, on the posting of her grudge in an abusive way on a social networking site, I would say she could have tried other channels such as contacting the SP, SSP or me, and we could have followed the case. She posted foul language and her friend added more abuses and shared it further, which is not excusable. What is wrong is wrong. Social websites are for relationships and socialising, not for immoral things. Youngsters should know how to talk publicly.”
Aastha Saini, 19, student of Government College of Art, Sector 10
“If I were in Henna’s shoes, I would have only mentioned the names of the cops who had asked irrelevant queries when she went to file a complaint, and I would have done so while controlling my use of language. While blaming the cops, we shouldn’t deny them the credit for being efficient, for they do work to maintain law and order. But yes, Henna surely doesn’t deserve imprisonment; she should be fined and then helped. This case is an eye-opener for all of us and we all need to learn on a personal level.”
Akshay Gawri, 20, student of DAV College, Sector 10
“I believe Henna had been harassed by the police when they accused her of stealing her own car. Later, even after waiting for almost a month, the police couldn’t find it. Losing her car and facing humiliation at the hands of the authorities might have forced her to use offensive words, but she shouldn’t be arrested for this act. Also, Facebook is a website that gives us freedom of speech, so if the UT traffic police had issues, it could have blocked her posts and warned her friend.”
Sargam Bahlvi, 18, student of Government College of Art, Sector 10
“Undoubtedly, abusing the authorities publicly is wrong. But her (Henna’s) cause wasn’t wrong either. In fact, even I might have reacted in the same way had I been in her place. A Tata Safari is not a small asset; anyone can get frustrated if nothing is done to retrieve it for so long.
But yes, the youth should learn how to and locate the car instead of indulging in a blame game."