After the Thane Police arrested a girl for questioning the shutdown of Mumbai after the death of Bal Thackeray on Facebook, and another for ‘liking’ here comment, a joke going around on internet was:
Just how bad was Kasab’s Facebook Status Message (that he got hanged) ?
This says a lot about our great democracy where Ban is the new buzz word. After the GoI Blocks fiasco, the government agencies have not learnt a lot of lessons and are still harping on the same old tunes. In India where taking offence seems to be the national pastime, the pathetically archaic Article 66A of Indian IT Laws is being grossly misused both by the Government agencies and those who have a greater access in the corridors of power and police.
It is interesting to know that an “offensive” post on Social media carries a bigger punishment that culpable homicide due to negligent driving. This is a classic case where the egos of the high and mighty has become bigger than the life of an ordinary citizen. Interestingly the IT law has no corresponding equivalent in the real life. So while you can get away with abusing someone from the mike in a political rally, posting the same speech on Facebook can land you in jail for up to three years. Will I get arrested for quipping that the lawmakers who created 66A have been overly stupid ?
India never was a true democracy, however it has made a drastic shift to mobo-cracy in the last decade or so. As a result of this, while the girl who posted the now famous status message on Facebook went behind bars, the hooligans form Shiv Sena who vandalized her Uncle’s hospital almost got away with their debauchery. For a change, there was a huge hue and cry, maybe because everyone could feel the shirt burning on their backs and the government had to take an action.
As I write this, an SP and another from police have been arrested and the magistrate who did not see the demerits of this case has been shunted away. Will this come as a deterrent to the police which swings in action if there is a powerless civilian involved into such “exotic” cases and remains a mute witness otherwise ? I doubt. Meanwhile the war between Right to Freedom of Speech and Duty of Responsible Speech wages on.
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