After Facebook, youth arrested for anti-Modi message on WhatsApp

Just last week there were reports about a young professional being arrested for slamming Narendra Modi on Facebook, a new report reveals that five students from Bhatkal were detained by the police for spreading anti-Modi morphed photo on WhatsApp. A first such case in Bangalore, 23 year old Syed Waqar, an MBA student from Bhatkal, along with four other friends was in the city for a one-month internship. While the four others were let off after questioning, Waqar has been handed over to the Belgaum Police.

 

Accoridng to Bangalore Mirror, "during the investigation, police found that the message originated in Bangalore and was sent by Waqar."  An FIR has been registered against Waqar by the Khanapur police in Belgaum district, reports IBN-Live. It should be noted that Waqar claims to be an Aam Aadmi Party worker. However, the police is yet to confirm this.

 

So, what did the offensive message contain?According to the local newspaper, "The morphed picture showed the final rites of Modi being performed, attended by L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Baba Ramdev, Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi. It had a caption: Na Jeet Paye Jhooton Ka Sardar — Ab Ki Baar Antim Sanskar (A false leader will never win, this time it's final rites)."

 

The arrest was reportedly based on a complaint lodged in Belgaum district by RTI activist Jayant Mukund Tinaikar, who received the offensive message against the PM-to-be on 16 May.

 

Tinaikar told the Mirror in Bangalore,  "I got the message only once, but they have shared it with many people. We can't rule out any terror link either. Well educated people, software technology and Bhatkal - all are here and they are spreading this message showing a picture of Modi as a dead body, which is wrong and alarming."

According to FirstPost, "Waqar's arrest comes under Section 505 of the IPC for issuing statements amounting to public mischief with intent to cause fear or alarm and Section 66 of the IT Act for sending offensive messages through communication service.

 

Where Section 66-A is concerned, it reads,

 

"Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device, (a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; (b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience,  danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device, (c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages."

 

Reports last week disclosed how a young shipbuilding professional named Devu Chodankar could be behind bars for alleged defamatory comments against Narendra Modi - former Gujarat chief minister and the newly-elected Prime Minister of India during the run up for Lok Sabha polls. A trial court is said to have rejected the anticipatory bail application moved by Devu, clearing the way for his possible arrest, even as the police want to probe if Chodankar had broader plans to “promote communal and social disharmony” in Goa.

 

In the wake of the politically charged last few months in the India social media scene, we’ve seen many reports of people apprehended for so-called objectionable posts. The one incident that really brought in the harsh realities of social media censorship occured in late 2012, when two girls from Palghar, Maharashtra were arrested for making a Facebook comment protesting the closure of shops in the wake of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s death. The duo was initially booked under section 295A (hurting the religious sentiment of others) and were reportedly remanded to judicial custody.

 

In February last year, a man in Agra was arrested for “communal and inflammatory” posts on social networking site Facebook targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal and Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

 

First appeared on FirstPost.


Published Date: May 26, 2014 11:28 am | Updated Date: May 26, 2014 11:28 am