Thackeray FB post: 9 vandals held

Outrage over the arrest of two girls for posting comments on Facebook led to action.

MUMBAI: The Mumbai police on Tuesday detained as many as nine people for having vandalised a clinic in Palghar, Maharashtra, after the countrywide outrage over the arrest of two young girls for a Facebook post that questioned the shutdown of Mumbai following the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.

The clinic belonged to the uncle of one of the girls who was arrested for an innocuous Facebook post.

The police have come under fire over the arrest of the girl, 21-year-old college student Shaheen Dhada, for posting the comment and her friend, Renu Srinivasan, for clicking ‘Like’ on the Facebook update.

It has not been ascertained if the detained men are members of the Shiv Sena.

Two girls arrested for anti-Thackeray Facebook post

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal has ordered a probe into the arrest of the girl and her friend.

"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.

Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju on 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.

Katju said that it was absurd to say that protesting against a bandh hurt religious sentiments.

Katju said if no action was taken 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".

He wrote a second email to Chavan later and sought an explanation as to why there was no response to his previous message.

"You have not replied to my email but only forwarded it to someone called Amitabh Rajan, whom I do not know, and who has not had the courtesy to respond to me," Katju wrote.

"Please realise that the matter is much too serious to be taken in this cavalier manner, because the principle of liberty is at stake. The entire nation wants to know what action you have taken. I would therefore request you to immediately let me know what you are doing in this matter," he added.

Katju told Chavan that silence was not an option for him in the matter and that the entire nation was furious at this apparently illegal arrest.

Terming the girls' arrest as "blatant misuse of state machinery", Katju asked what action was taken against the "delinquent policemen".

An official from Palghar police station in Thane rural confirmed the arrests and said the girls were released on bail Monday after they were presented in a 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.

Katju earlier wrote to the chief minister: "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."