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Published on November 20th, 2012

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CM gives two days for Palghar arrests inquiry

Preliminary report from DGP indicates that Palghar police acted high-handededly in arresting the girls. Both girls are out on bail.
by The Editors | editor@themetrognome.in

A day after two girls in Palghar – Shaheen Dhada and her friend Rini Srinivasan, both 21 years old – were arrested by Palghar police for alleged defamatory and hurtful status message on Facebook, pressure is mounting on the Maharashtra state government to act against the errant cops as soon as possible. With the Press Council of India’s Chairman dashing off two letters to CM Prithviraj Chavan yesterday, and a storm of criticism across the Internet in India and abroad, Chavan has given his people two days to complete a high-level probe and furnish him with the facts of the case.

Chavan has directed the Konkan IG to investigate the matter in two days – the deadline for this ends tomorrow. DGP Sanjeev Dayal yesterday submitted a preliminary report to Additional Chief Secretary (Home department) Amitabh Rajan, in which he mentioned that there appeared to be “high-handedness on the part of the field officials” and the arrest of two girls appeared to be unwarranted and uncalled-for. Dayal has also asked the Palghar cops if they had “applied their minds” while charging the girl’s FB post under Section 295(A) (outraging religious feelings). Prior to this, the Palghar Sessions Court had remanded the two girls to 15 days’ judicial custody, but the girls were later let off on bail for a surety of Rs 15,000 each.

The case

Shaheen had posted a Facebook status message that criticised the complete shutdown of Mumbai in the wake of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s death on Saturday, November 17. Her friend Rini had ‘liked’ the message. Angered by the comment, a group of men, purportedly from the Shiv Sena, vandalised Dhada Hospital, which belongs to Shaheen’s uncle, Dr Abdul Dhada. The girl’s family has also alleged that a huge mob of Sainiks locked the girl and her family in their home, before forcefully taking Shaheen to the police station. A police complaint against the two girls had been filed by the Shiv Sena shakha pramukh of the area, Bhushan Sankhe.

The girls were initially questioned by the police and slapped with IPC Section 295A (outraging religious feelings) and Section 66A, IT Act (offensive message through a communication device). Later, Section 295A was changed to 505(2) (creating enmity). Interestingly, the girls were summoned to the police station after sunset – by law, an Indian woman may not be brought to the police station or arrested after sunset. The girls were arrested at about 7 am on Monday.

Shaheen apologised and took down the offending comment; however Sankhe said that the Sainiks were “angered” after the girl was asked to apologise and she refused to do so.

Update: Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has replied to Justice Katju’s letter. Chavan has assured Katju of the gravity of the investigations, and appraised him of the arrest of nine persons who attacked Dr Dhada’s clinic. Read the reply here.

(Picture courtesy www.arabnews.com)

 

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