What has shocked internet users – those addicted to Facebook and Twitter – is the recent arrest of a girl who posted a message on her Facebook page as to why a city like Bombay should be shut down because a right-wing leader – Bal Thackeray – died. I have already written about this in this post.
Shaheen Dhada, a college student, had innocently written, “People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a ‘bandh’ [shutdown] for that.” on her facebook page and her friend had “liked” the post. The police following a complaint had arrested Shaheen Dhada and her friend and charged her under the Section 66A of the constitution dealing with online media. The two girls were detained by the police, interrogated and charged. They are fighting a battle to clear their names.
The saga didn’t end there. Workers of the right-wing party Shiv Sena attacked the hospital run by Shaheen Dhada’s uncle and vandalised equipment worth Rs two million. The authorities were reluctant to arrest the perpetrators of this crime and even after their arrest – after a public outcry – let them off on bail immediately. What is obvious is that they do not want to offend the righ-wing party and its bigshots who are known to resort to violence and arson to prove their point.
The aftermath of this incident proves the partisan nature of Indian authorities and their willingness to punish innocents whose only crime – if it can be called that – was to express their feelings about the virtual paralysis of the city after a leader’s death. As for the traumatised girls who appeared in veils in photographs, they will have to fight they way through the police machinery and face even a jail term.