The Akhilesh Yadav regime displayed an unseemly autocratic streak on Tuesday with the arrest of a Dalit scholar in Rampur for posting comments on Facebook against the state government over the suspension of Noida SDM Durga Shakti Nagpal.
The scholar and thinker Kanwal Bharti was later released by a local court. After his release, Bharti said: “They are rulers, we are poor subjects. They can frame me in a false case, demolish my house or even get me killed. They are rulers. They can do anything.”
He said the Akhilesh regime seemed to have clamped down on free speech. “Policemen dragged me from my house in a pyjama and vest as if I am a criminal or dacoit,” said Bharti, a retired government servant.
The incident refreshed memories of the overbearing manner in which two Mumbai girls were arrested over a Facebook post criticising the shutdown in Mumbai during Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s funeral last year. It is also reminiscent of how West Bengal CM Mamta Bannerjee had got a Jadavpur University professor arrested for circulating a picture spoof of her on the internet.
A posse of policemen swooped down on Kanwal Bharti’s house in Civil Lines area of Rampur on Tuesday morning and arrested him. He was brought to the Civil Lines police station and booked under sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
Rampur Additional SP Sadhna Goswami told reporters that Bharti had been arrested following complaints that he was inciting feelings of a particular community with his writings on the internet.