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Probe ordered into girls' arrest for questioning Mumbai shutdown

Mumbai, Nov 19, 2012 (IANS) 20:11 IST
Maharashtra Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal Monday ordered a probe into the arrest of a 21-year-old girl and her friend for posting comments on a social networking website on the shutdown in Mumbai after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's death.

"An inquiry has been ordered in the case and a report will be submitted by the inspector general of the Konkan range Saturday," Dayal told IANS. Thane rural police Sunday arrested Shaheen Dadha for questioning the shutdown in the city after Thackeray's death Saturday, and the subsequent shutdown Sunday for his funeral and cremation.

Another girl in Dadha's friends' list, who 'liked' the comment, was also arrested. An official from Palghar police station in Thane rural confirmed the arrests of the girls. The official said the girls were released on bail Monday after they were presented in the local court.

Reports here said that both the girls were booked and arrested under Section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code (for hurting religious sentiments) and Section 64(a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju Monday criticised the arrests in strong words and requested Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to suspend the official who arrested the girls.

"I received an email stating that the woman has been arrested for protesting on Facebook against the shutdown in Mumbai on the occasion of the death of Mr. Bal Thackeray. It is alleged that she has been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments," Katju wrote.

"Hence if the facts reported are correct, I request you to immediately order the suspension, arrest, chargesheeting and criminal prosecution of the police personnel (however high they may be) who ordered as well as implemented the arrest of that woman," Katju said.

The PCI chairman added that if Chavan failed to take action, then he would "deem it that you as chief minister are unable to run the state in a democratic manner as envisaged by the constitution to which you have taken oath, and then the legal consequences will follow".

Katju said that it was absurd to say that protesting against a bandh hurt religious sentiments. "Under Article 19(1)(a) of our constitution, freedom of speech is a guaranteed fundamental right. We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship. In fact 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," he pointed out.

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