Enraged at the ‘deafening silence from the liberal side’, Twitter users called out Mumbai Police’s gag order to criminalise criticism of Uddhav Thackeray‘s Shiv Sen-led government in Maharashtra. The Mumbai Police Commisionerate had issued the gag order on Saturday, May 23, atop the prevailing section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), along with regulations on social media usage. Also Read - Punjab Lockdown: No Need to Quarantine if Travelling For Less Than 72 Hours | 7 Rules to Follow
Signed by deputy commissioner of Mumbai Police, Pranaya Ashok, the order was stated to be effective from May 25 to June 8. A report in The Wire claimed that as per the police, it was issued to deal with the “animosity created in the state due to COVID-19 pandemic”. Hence, in the times of coronavirus, it has specifically directed legal action against those criticising the state and its functioning. Also Read - Brazilian Couple Spotted Wearing 'Spacesuits' to Fight COVID-19, Pictures Go Viral | Watch
Among other directives, the order “prohibits any person inciting mistrust towards government functionaries and their actions taken in order to prevent spread of the COVID- 19 virus and thereby causing danger to human health or safety or a disturbance to the public tranquillity” and the violator will be prosecuted under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. Also Read - After Shubham Mishra, Mumbai Police Arrests YouTuber Umesh Dada Over Rape Threats to Comedian Agrima Joshua
This comes as an addition to the prohibitory orders that have been ongoing in Mumbai for close to three decades, ever since 1992-93 when communal violence broke in the city. Dissemination of fake news, incorrect information and other objectionable content on various social media platforms are some of the issues listed under the current gag order as faced by the state.
Pouring their outrage on Twitter, while one user wrote, “Its time to walk the talk @AUThackeray . While you’re handling the crisis well IMO this is unacceptable. Hope alliance partners can force the hand of the govt in regard to this ?”, another tweeted, “This what happening in Maharashtra. Not a word from news media” and yet another lashed, “The desire to be a little despot runs deep among politicians of all ideologies. Everyone wants a police state.” sic
Check out Twitter’s reaction on the news here:
The Maharashtra government is fighting multiple battles currently. Not only is it burdened with the responsibility of checking the COVID-19 crisis as the state is the worst-hit in the country, but also countering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that is seeking to corner the government over the pandemic. Although, senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday dismissed speculations that the Opposition was trying to destabilise the government.