Bal Thackeray Facebook post: Social networks erupt over girls' arrest

Facebook girls

The arrest of two girls over their Facebook post on shutdown in Mumbai for Bal Thackeray's funeral today again opened a can of worms with netizens calling the move a "social media hijack by the powerful and the fundamentalists".

Social media was abuzz with tweets and posts about the arrest, with most referring to the arrest as yet another move to curb freedom of speech on the Internet.

Noted journalist Gautam Chikermane tweeted "First Pondicherry businessman, now 21 year old Palghar girl. Next: all of us. Social media hijack by the powerful and the fundamentalists".

Minister of State (Communications and IT) Milind Deora tweeted: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize ~ Voltaire".

Communication specialist Alyque Padamsee expressed shock at the arrest and the vandalism at the clinic of one of the girl's uncle.

"I want to know how these girls have broken the law when all they said is that why should Mumbai come to a standstill.

There is nothing derogatory against Thackeray. I do not see anything illegal in that," he said.

Padamsee further said the Constitution provides everyone free speech and that "no one should be arrested on such flimsy grounds".

Pavan Duggal, Cyber law Expert and an advocate with Supreme Court also voiced similar views. "This is high time for the government for the review of the law. The government should amend the IT Act so as to narrow down its provisions as some of the these violate our constitutional right of free speech."

He added that it would be a bigger challenge for the prosecution to prove that the statement could incite communal disharmony and violence.

"This should not be seen merely as "social media regulation", but as a restriction on freedom of speech and expression by both the law and the police," Centre for Internet and Society Policy Director Pranesh Prakash said.

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