Social media is a double-edged sword. It can give voice to the everyman, but at times, can also have some very damaging effects on the same everyman.
In August 2015, a video clip purportedly showing a "drunk" policeman travelling in Delhi metro went viral on social media, raising concerns about safety of the commuters and violation of the DMRC rules.
The undated video, posted on Facebook, had been shared thousands of times and showed the constable in inebriated state struggling to hold on to a pole while swinging back and forth inside a coach. The 36-second clip also shows the dishevelled policeman with his shirt untucked, trying to find his way around the coach.
As the train halts at Azadpur Station on Yellow Line, the cop can be seen crashing down to the floor and being helped up by fellow passengers.
The policeman in question was soon identified as 50-year-old head constable Salim PK, who was posted at Police Lines in the Outer District. He was subsequently suspended.
Salim has now filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking compensation for the uploading of the video to social media and the subsequent coverage which has “irreparably maligned his image in the eyes of the public”, reports Scroll.
As it turns out, Salim was not drunk at all but was suffering a stroke.
Salim reportedly suffered a black-out when he boarded a metro. He suffered a stroke that left him paralysed on the left side. He now suffers from a speech disorder and is in his home state of Kerala on three months' medical leave, reports Huffington Post.
His suspension was withdrawn and he was reinstated in the force on 5 November, 2015, within two months of the clip going viral.
This follow-up story was not widely reported.
A police department official declared his suspension period as "spent on duty", reports India Today.
Salim has now urged the Centre to take steps to remove the video and identify measures to prevent such abuse of social media in the future.
“When the video went viral and Salim was suspended, it made front page news. When he was taken back, not a single newspaper or TV channel carried it. In the eyes of the general public, the petitioner was drunk in the metro and he is still under suspension,” Salim's lawyer, Wills Mathews said in an interview with Mail Online.
Here is the original video:
With inputs from agencies