Social media posts: MP sees spurt in criminal cases - Hindustan Times
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Social media posts: MP sees spurt in criminal cases

Ranjan & Kalyan Das, Hindustan Times, Bhopal | By
Aug 10, 2016 11:54 AM IST

Madhya Pradesh has lately witnessed a spurt in criminal proceedings being taken up against people accused of posting communally sensitive material on the social media. As it turns out, most of them belong to the minority community.

Madhya Pradesh has lately witnessed a spurt in criminal proceedings being taken up against people accused of posting communally sensitive material on the social media. As it turns out, most of them belong to the minority community.

Madhya Pradesh has lately witnessed a spurt in criminal proceedings being taken up against people accused of posting communally sensitive material on the social media.(Representational image)
Madhya Pradesh has lately witnessed a spurt in criminal proceedings being taken up against people accused of posting communally sensitive material on the social media.(Representational image)

Police on Saturday night arrested a Muslim bookshop owner in Bhopal for allegedly selling Nai Duniya – a Urdu weekly that published a communally offensive article. He was taken into custody after Bajrang Dal activists lodged a complaint against him at the MP Nagar police station. “We took action against the accused immediately after the complaint was registered,” said superintendent of police (north) Arvind Saxena.

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On July 8, Betul police arrested two men in connection with a communally sensitive message shared on a Whatsapp group. While one of those detained was the person who posted the message, the other was the Whatsapp group administrator.

Earlier this year, Bhopal police initiated action against two people — Abdul Qayyum Qureshi (31) and Ali Hassan Sheikh (32) — under the National Security Act after arresting them from Mumbai. They had allegedly posted obscene images of Hindu deities on Facebook. Gautam Nagar town inspector Mukhtar Qureshi said stringent action was taken against the two because the images could have “incited communal violence”.

Other incidents included the arrest of two people – Shakir Yunus Banthia and Vasim Shaikh — for posting a morphed picture of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on the social media, and penal action against RPF constable Raghuvir Yadav for making religiously offensive remarks on a public platform.

Members of the saffron brigade have also faced penal action in this regard, though critics say their numbers are relatively few. In the most significant among such cases, Sanjay Bhavsar – vice-president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Barwani unit – was arrested for making allegedly offensive comments against Prophet Muhammad.

Civil society member Sachin Jain alleged a certain bias in police action. “Law enforcing agencies are influenced by the ideology of the party in power. Knowingly or unknowingly, it finds reflection in their actions,” he said.

Masood Khan, secretary of the Coordination Committee for Indian Muslims (Madhya Pradesh unit), expressed a similar sentiment. “The police seem to be prejudiced... For instance, some people in Mandsaur posted provocative comments on social media last year, but no action was taken against them,” he said.

Professor Zameeruddin, an educationist, also said police should not work as “an instrument of the political class” because that could pose a danger to society as a whole.

However, inspector general (law and order) Makrand Deuskar rejected the allegations. “We do not target people based on their religion. Besides acting against offenders, we also try to educate the public against sharing communally offensive messages,” he said.

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