Reports raise questions about the vague formulation of Indian law, as a 21-year-old girl gets arrested for posting a comment that officials in Mumbai, India, find religiously offensive.
On Sunday, November 18, Mumbai was completely shut down for the funeral of Shiv Sena political leader Bal Thackeray. The teenager expressed her opposition to blocking major arteries for the funeral.
“Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that,” her comment reads, according to police official Uttam Sonawane, quoted by the Mumbai Mirror.
The accused, who remains unnamed in the press, was joined by a friend who “liked” her comment, and who was also arrested. They were both ordered to 14 days of judicial custody, but both made bail today.
The girls were sanctioned for “hurting religious sentiments” under Section 295 (a) of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 64 (a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Even as the Facebook post was deleted and the uploader apologized, her family suffered great distress as some 2,000 Shiv Sena supporters mobbed an orthopedic clinic in Palghar, belonging to her uncle.
A political cartoonist, Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena in 1966, and since then, they have operated as a vigilante network of gangs, with many dubbing the organization a “Hindu extremist” party.
Members have amassed massive fortunes, and have been connected to the growing Bollywood film industry, Wikipedia writes.
Indian editor S. Balakrishnan described Thackeray as authoritarian and very well connected. “Thackeray ruled like a dictator, one phone call was enough to ensure peace on the shop floor,” he said in a 2005 piece for the Times Of India.
According to Media Nama, India's Head of Press Council is protesting against the arrest, and asking for the officers who implemented it to face criminal prosecution.
“To my mind it is absurd to say that protesting against a bandh hurts religious sentiments. [...] This arrest itself appears to be a criminal act since under sections 341 and 342 it is a crime to wrongfully arrest or wrongfully confine someone who has committed no crime,” the Press Council leader states.