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Facebook controversy: Shiv Sena shuts down Palghar

Thane, Nov 28, 2012, (IANS): 18:57 IST
Mourners carry a poster of Hindu hardline Shiv Sena party leader Bal Thackeray with the words 'Long Live' during his funeral in Mumbai, India. File AP Photo
Maharashtra's Palghar town and surrounding areas remained shut Wednesday in response to a call by the Shiv Sena to oppose the suspension of the two police officials who had arrested two girls for their Facebook comments on Bal Thackeray's death.

The shutdown call evoked a near-total response in the industrial town, around 100 km north-west of the state capital Mumbai in Thane district, officials said.

Two girls from Palghar, Shaheen Dadha and her friend Renu Srinivasan, had questioned on Facebook the shutdown after the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray Nov 17 and also the following day when he was cremated in Mumbai. They were arrested by two police officials, who were placed under suspension Tuesday.

G.R. Patil, a resident of the town with a population of around 200,000, said the shutdown evoked total response, paralysing public transport, trade and business activities.

After the girls' comments on the Facebook, suspected Shiv Sena activists lodged a police complaint against the girls and also vandalised a hospital owned by Shaheen's uncle.

Following a nationwide uproar over the developments, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil ordered a probe into the incident and followed up by suspending two policemen Tuesday.

"Based on the report submitted by the inspector general of police, Konkan Range, (Sukhvinder Singh), it has been decided that the superintendent of police, Thane Rural, Ravindra Sengaonkar be suspended and a departmental probe be ordered against him," Patil told reporters here.

"Similarly, it has also been decided that the Palghar police chief, Senior Inspector Shrikant Pingle, also be suspended and a departmental inquiry be ordered against him too," he added.

To prevent bias in the investigations, the case was transferred from Palghar to Boisar police station, around 15 km away, in the same district.

The police first information report (FIR) against Shaheen and Renu said that their Facebook comments had "hurt religious sentiments", while a second FIR was lodged by Shaheen's uncle, Abdul, whose hospital was vandalized by suspected Shiv Sainiks.

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