Before Narendra Modi is sworn in as prime minister on 26 May, a young shipbuilding professional may well be behind bars, for slamming the now former Gujarat chief minister on Facebook during the Lok Sabha election campaign.
A trial court on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail application moved by Devu Chodankar, a shipbuilding diploma holder working in Mumbai, 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.
During the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, Chodankar, in a post on Goa+, a popular forum with over 47,000 members, had claimed that if elected to power, Modi would unleash a 'holocaust'. He deleted his post subsequently.
However, justifying his post subsequently on another popular local Facebook forum, Goa Speaks, Chodankar while apologising for his choice of words had stood by the sum of his argument, calling it his crusade against the “tyranny of fascists”. He also claimed that some elitist right wing elements were in the process of filing a first information report with the Goa Police’s Cyber Cell.
The police came into the picture when former chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries Atul Pai Kane filed an FIR against him in March this year under sections 153(A), 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 125 of the People's Representation Act and 66-A of the Information Technology Act.
Some of the sections are non-bailable in nature.
Kane in his complaint said Chodandkar had threatened Facebook users from voting for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. Opposition parties at that time had protested the FIR calling it an attempt by the BJP to muzzle criticism.
"The complaint is against Devu for making inflammatory statements and trying to create communal disharmony, not comments against the BJP," Kane had explained in his online post.
Police, in their plea filed before the District and Sessions judge, more than agreed with Kane and now want custodial interrogation of Chodankar “for recovery of cyber forensic evidence at his instance” and the motive of the crime.
Critically, police inspector Rajesh Job of the Cyber Cell in his say claims: “Custodial interrogation of the accused is very much essential to find out any motive of a larger game plan to promote communal and social disharmony in the state”.
Job claims that the delay in response by the Facebook legal cell forced the investigating police to resort to alternate means to confirm Chodankar’s identity. Subsequently, two summons have already been issued to Chodankar.
Facebook is still abuzz with comments on the incident. Writes Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai alumnus Dr Samir Kelekar, who has been campaigning to drop police action against Devu for his post. “No one is justifying what Devu wrote, but it is draconian to put someone behind bars for a mere FB post which has had no affect on the society-at-large,” he says.
Chodankar's legal counsel Jatin Naik says the next step would be approach the High Court for relief.
Updated Date: May 24, 2014 12:26:14 IST