The state government has delayed taking action yet again against the police officers that arrested two young women from Palghar for posting “offensive” comments about the bandh following Bal Thackeray’s death on a social networking site. The government extended the deadline for the submission of the report of the high level probe by a day.
Home minister RR Patil defended the police officers again on Wednesday, claiming that they were under tremendous pressure and the action taken by them was a response to the aggrieved situation at the police station on Sunday night.
Patil, while speaking in the state cabinet on Wednesday, said that it was very difficult to describe what is offending and could outrage the religious sentiments of people.
“A comment offensive to one person can be normal to another one. It’s difficult to decide what’s an objectionable piece of literature. It would be, hence, unfair to take action against the officers before the report of the probe is received,” Patil said.
The girl, Shaheen Dhada, wrote on her Facebook wall: “Every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on...Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not respect.”
She was arrested along with her friend, who merely liked the post, under various sections of the IPC and the IT Act. Shiv sainiks reportedly put tremendous pressure on the police to arrest the duo and even vandalised a hospital, owned by the girl’s uncle, in Palghar.
The arrests led to national outrage and reignited the debate over freedom of expression in the country.
Minorities welfare minister Arif Naseem Khan raised strong objection to the girl’s arrest. “The sections applied in the arrest are harsh and unjust. Why are the police officers protected despite this being an absolute case of violation of power?” he said to Patil.
However, CM Prithviraj Chavan backed the home minister and said that action against the officers would be taken only after the report was submitted.