Outrage at India arrests over Facebook post

 
Internet user in Hyderabad, India, file pic In recent months, Indian police have acted against several people for their posts on Facebook or Twitter

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The arrest of two women on Monday over a comment on Facebook has sparked off widespread anger in India.

One of the women had criticised the shutdown of Mumbai in her post, after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, while the other "liked" the comment.

The women, accused of "promoting enmity between classes", were released on bail after appearing in court.

The death of the controversial Hindu nationalist politician on Saturday afternoon brought Mumbai to a halt.

In her Facebook comment on Sunday, 21-year-old Shaheen Dhanda wrote: "People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a 'bandh' [shutdown] for that."

Her 20-year-old friend Renu Srinivasan 'liked' the status.

'Abuse of authority'

The Times of India newspaper responded with the headline: "Shame: 2 girls arrested for harmless online comment."

The newspaper said the arrests were a "clear case of abuse of authority".

"The girl was not slandering anybody, nor was she promoting hatred towards any community".

The newspaper said the charges should be dropped and a case of "wrongful arrest" registered against the police.

Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju has written a letter to the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan criticising the arrests.

"We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship. In fact, this arrest itself appears to be a criminal act, since... it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime," Mr Katju, a former Supreme Court judge, said.

Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency that he was "deeply saddened" by the arrests.

"It is their point of view, and enforcement of these laws are not to ban people from expressing their views," he said.

In recent months, police have arrested a number of people in cases which are being seen as a test of India's commitment to freedom of speech.

In October, Ravi Srinivasan, a 46-year-old businessman in the southern Indian city of Pondicherry, was arrested for a tweet criticising Karti Chidambaram, son of Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram. He was later released on bail.

In September, there was outrage when a cartoonist was jailed in Mumbai on charges of sedition for his anti-corruption drawings. The charges were later dropped.

And in April, the West Bengal government arrested a teacher who had emailed to friends a cartoon that was critical of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He too was later released on bail.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 74.

    Indian politician Bal Thackeray was more right wing than Nick Griffin, & Thackeray applauded much of Hitlers policys.
    What people need to wake up to, is the reality that religions are NOT seperate from political ideology & that religions can & often are, just as right wing as Nazis or just as left wing as Stalin
    Imagine Nick Griffin supporters in UK police, thats the suppresive reality in India

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    60Meadowland

    You prove my point. Laws are necessary to police criminally offensive behaviour. You cannot unilaterally declare that some laws do not apply to you because you are online.
    ===
    I think we may be at cross purposes. I'm unable to relate the above to my response to your op. Too few chars in which to sort it out, I think.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 72.

    Does anyone actually take notice of Facebook?

    Must be brain dead.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 71.

    UK Government. Your 'facts' are incorrect. The girl did not make comedic value out of the death. She simply stated that many people die in Mumbai but the place does not shutdown. The facts show that it is you and your type that are the sick few who thrive on an outdated and outmoded form of government. Get a life.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 70.

    @62. UK Government Communism

    Your views have no place in a free society as @19 clearly points out to you.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 69.

    Does India feel like suggesting to Facebook that they appoint a moderator, who can remove comments likely to offend? On second thoughts, daft idea really. Who ever heard of such a thing?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    Was George Orwell's '1984' ever translated into Hindu/Urdu? Perhaps it should be...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 67.

    these poor girls were arrested just for expressing their views on facebook. they did not slander anyone. the great indian police instead of arresting shiv sainiks who vandalised their property and protecting the girls have filed a frivilous case and arrested them. what a sad day for democracy in worlds largest democracy

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 66.

    This situation is inevitable. As more people gain access to social media sites more opinions will be made. Governments (and not just extreme ones) will no doubt have already realised they and their actions can be questioned and criticised more often, more easily and openly via social media. The rich and powerful, no matter where they are, won't like being 'back chatted' to by us mere mortals.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 65.

    There is nothing wrong in the FB comment. The political leader has done nothing good for the country of society. Even the police instructed people to remain indoor. Doesnt it reflect the terror of the organization led by him. Even Hitler did the same what he did in Mumbai. Police and Judiciary both supported the goons by arresting the girls against law.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 64.

    Maybe that's the way they look at things in India. We in the West may not agree with it, but it's up to India as the world's largest democracy to sort itself out on this particular subject. Just because something appears in social media doesn't make it inviolable in respect of the laws of the country of the originator.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 63.

    Let's hope this is the end of the Sena. They have effectively been running Bombay (sorry, forgive me- please don't kill me- Mumbai) as a business through a protection racket for years. Neither Thackeray's son nor nephew have the nous or charisma to step into his shoes. let's hope they implode with all the infighting which will surely start now. Popcorn time, folk....

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 62.

    People's views and comdic value on making a fool of someones family member dying is fine? you people sicken me. It is more than a view, it is an assault upon the bereaved family. As for comic value you should take a serious look at your life. You are the sick few who cause conflict in society the very same as these women have done you have learned nothing.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 61.

    Some talk about free speech.

    It does not exist, anywhere on this planet, everywhere it has limits.

    Everywhere there are increasing suppressive restrictions on speech.

    Even UK majority rejection of PCC elections is suppressed.

    In UK, you can be imprisoned for heated emotional stupidity & ignorance, saying something racial, homophobic, or other discriminatory expression.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 60.

    57 Fuzzy
    No, they have the right to respond within the law

    You prove my point. Laws are necessary to police criminally offensive behaviour. You cannot unilaterally declare that some laws do not apply to you because you are online.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 59.

    Governments around the world, including our own, are terrified of the freedom the internet promised ordinary people and they're doing all they can to put people off the idea of using it.

    Using the tried and tested excuses of protecting the children, copyright and national security, they're gradually whittling away at the usefulness of the internet.

    Be afraid...

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 58.

    Look how the the two girls have been cowed down in to Submission and their property vandalised.
    Bal Thackeray thrived on such Hate Politics, bullying and Violence for personal political gains.He doesn't represent Hindus in any way.

    http://ibnlive.in.com/cnnibnvideos/top-us/306423.html

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 57.

    56Meadowland

    Taken to its conclusion, if are nastily unpleasant to someone because it is your right then surely the person who is subject to the abuse should have the right to respond outside the law as well.
    ===
    No, they have the right to respond within the law.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 56.

    The case against these women certainly appears politically motivated and should be condemned. However being able to say what you like as a right, as advocated by some on here, suggests a form of anarchy. Taken to its conclusion, if are nastily unpleasant to someone because it is your right then surely the person who is subject to the abuse should have the right to respond outside the law as well.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 55.

    Still in the Stone-age, Corrupt and ungovernable. Indian Spring coming up?

 

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