So much for freedom of speech! Indian police said Monday they had arrested a woman for criticising on Facebook the total shutdown of Mumbai after the death of politician Bal Thackeray, as well as a friend who “liked” the comment.
Shaheen Dhada wrote on Facebook which was later liked by her friend Renu Srinivasan, “With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on. Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad, Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.”
The pair were due to appear in court later in the day charged under the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, said Police Inspector Shrikant Pingle in the town of Palghar north of Mumbai. While reacting on arrest, head of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju, head of the Press Council of India, wrote in in a letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra, “We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship.”
Police Inspector Uttam Sonawane told the Mumbai Mirror, “Her comment said people like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a ‘bandh’ (city shutdown) for that”. News of his death on Saturday afternoon brought the city to a virtual standstill for the weekend, with businesses shutting and taxis going off the roads, amid fears of violence by Thackeray’s supporters.
While his followers mourned, others were angered at the hold Shiv Sena exerted over India’s financial capital. The 21-year-old arrested for her Facebook post was among many who aired opinions on social networking sites.