Mumbai: A man from Chandrapur district in Maharashtra was arrested on Sunday for making ‘offensive’ social media posts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on social media.
The accused, identified as Baliraj Dhote, who runs something called a ‘self-respect movement’, was arrested at 4 AM after a complaint was filed against him by the BJP’s IT cell. He was charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act and sent to magisterial custody.
According to the police, the man was arrested under the above sections as he posted the offensive content both on WhatsApp and Facebook. One of the posts that he posted said that freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was represented by a Muslim lawyer while a Hindu lawyer argued against him. The police further said that he had also made posts showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Smriti Irani in poor light.
These posts, the police said, had created disquiet in the city. They also defended arresting him at such an odd hour saying that the complaint against him was made just the evening before his arrest and hence it took the police some time to cross-check the facts.
Besides this, the man is also said to have made a post implying that the state Finance and Forest Sudhir Mungantiwar was once ‘used’ to smuggle liquor in a prohibited district.
There have been several cases in the country of people being arrested for making ‘offensive’ posts on politicians, on social media. In one such case in Maharashtra itself, two girls were arrested after one of them made a post slamming forced shutdown in the state by the Shiv Sena following the death of its founder Bal Thackeray, while the other was for liking the same.
In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down Section 66(A) of the IT Act, 2000, which was about restrictions on online speech, on grounds of violating the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.