INDIA–Shades of the Philippines own Cybercrime Law? For posting a status and clicking “Like” on a Facebook update, a 21-year-old college student and her friend was arrested by police in Mumbai early this week.
Shaheen Dhada who posted the contentious update on Facebook and her friend Renu Srinivasan who clicked “Like” on the update was arrested by local authorities in a string of recent crackdowns on Internet speech in India.
Dhada’s update had criticized a general strike organized by the right-wing party Shiv Sena to mourn the death on Saturday of its elderly founder and patriarch, Bal Thackeray.
The controversial post reads, “Respect is earned, not given and definitely not forced. Today Mumbai shuts down due to fear and not due to respect.” She also said that politicians like Thackeray are “born and die daily” and the city need not shut down for it, and that people should remember the martyrs of the Indian independence movement.
Liberals had criticized the controversial leader for leaving behind a legacy of political violence in India’s financial capital. Likewise, the anti-Muslim violence in Mumbai in 1992 has been accused of the party, with its founder—Thackeray frequently making statements against Muslims.
Dhada and Ms. Srinivasan were charged under section 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code that seeks to punish statements that amount to “creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.”
Additional charges were made against the two students—Section 66A of the Information Technology Act that criminalizes online speech that is “grossly offensive or of menacing character;” and the Indian Penal Code 295A, which makes insulting or outraging religious feelings an offense. Each count carries the penalty of three years imprisonment. The wave of arrests came as a result of India’s controversial new information technology laws.