Two girls arrested for anti-Thackeray Facebook post

MUMBAI: Two Mumbai girls were arrested for questioning, on Facebook, the total shutdown in the city for Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's funeral. They were ordered by a local court to spend 14 days in jail.

However, they have been granted bail after paying a bond of Rs 15,000 each.

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.

Reports say that one of the girls, 21-year-old Shaheen Dhada, had posted on her Facebook wall: 'People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that. We should remember Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev, two martyrs of India's independence struggle.'

And surprisingly a friend of hers, Renu, who liked her post was also arrested.

Maharashtra Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal Monday ordered a probe into the arrest of a 21-year-old 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.

A Mumbai Mirror report said that though the girl withdrew her comment from Facebook and also apologized for having posted it, a mob of some 2,000 Shiv Sena workers attacked and ransacked her uncle's orthopaedic clinic in Mumbai.

The girls were 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 criticises arrest

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.

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.

Mumbai was at a standstill on Sunday as lakhs of supporters of Shiv Sena party founder Bal Thackeray joined his funeral procession amidst tight security.

The city was choc-a-block with people from all walks of life wanting to pay their last respects to the late leader. While some took to the streets, others gathered on flyovers and even climbed trees to get a final glimpse of Thackeray, who spent most of the last four decades as one of India's most polarised and consummate politicians, championing the cause of national and Maharashtrian identity.