ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Facebook Users

The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the arrest of two users of Facebook, Shaheen Dhada who questioned the total shutdown of Mumbai for Bal Thackeray’s ­funeral on 18 November 2012, and Renu Shrinivasan, who indicated that she agrees with the post. Though they have been released on bail, the duo were initially charged under S295-A, IPC (outraging religious feelings) and S66A, IT Act (sending offensive messages through communication services, etc). On 19 ­November, a rampaging mob, comprising 40-50 cadre of the Shiv Sena vandalised the clinic of Abdul Dhada, uncle of Shaheen Dhada. Despite withdrawing her post, the two were questioned by the police and arrested the following day, 20 November. Criticisms over the arrest compelled the police to modify the ­offence from u/s 295-A to S505 IPC (statement promoting and creating enmity and hatred among classes), order an internal probe into the matter and, detain a “few persons” in connection with the incident of vandalism in Dhada’s clinic.

Ironically, the arrests prove the validity of the Facebook comment posted by Dhada. The news media’s uncritical representation of the Mumbai shutdown after Thackeray’s death as a spontaneous one resulting from “respect” is called into question by the severity of the police action against the two women.

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