2 women arrested in Maharashtra for FB post on shutdown for Thackeray


On Sunday, as many parts of Mumbai and Maharashtra shut down in the wake of Bal Thackeray's death, a young woman in Palghar put up a status message on her Facebook page, expressing the opinion that the 'bandh' was not necessary. A friend 'liked' her status message.

Soon, both women had been arrested, charged with hurting religious sentiments, and produced in a court, which granted them bail.

In the face of nationwide outrage — including strong condemnation from Press Council of India chairman Justice (retd) Markandey Katju and an expression of regret from Communications and I-T Minister Kapil Sibal — the police, who initially defended their action, appeared to backtrack.

Late Monday evening, the charge against the women was downgraded from Sec 295 (A) IPC to the less stringent Sec 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and Sec 66 of the I-T Act (hacking with computer system).

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's office issued a release saying the additional DG, Konkan Range, had been asked to inquire and submit a report within two days.

Police said BMS graduate Shaheen Dhada had put up a status message saying there was no need for a 'bandh' for Thackeray's funeral, and that people should remember martyrs like Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev. Her friend Renu Shrinivas, a Botany graduate from S N Dandekar College, had 'liked' it.

The police detained both women for a few hours on Sunday night, but allowed them to return home. On Monday morning, they arrested them. The police acted after a mob of about 500 Shiv Sena supporters complained against the women, but failed to make any arrests after the same mob vandalised an orthopaedic hospital run by Dhada's uncle. They have only registered a complaint of damage to property against unidentified people.

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