An Indian politician sparked controversy after he posted a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a begging bowl on Facebook. This picture is very insulting and immediate action was taken and has been arrested in the latest example of what critics say is a clampdown on free speech.
The politician is Sathiyaraj alias Balu, a local pro-Tamil party who is an office-bearer of MDMK’s Sirkazhi town unit in the district. He was arrested Sunday night on complaints from local BJP and Hindu Makkal Katchi leaders about the vulgar morphed picture he posted on Facebook post.
He has been charged with intent to disrupt the peace and to create ill-will between classes, after an official complaint was made by local members of PM Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The MDMK worker had made the post on January 26 in connection with the ‘GoBackModi’ campaign in the social media opposing the visit of the Prime Minister to Madurai for laying the foundation stone of AIIMS.
Critics say such arrests are alarming in the world’s largest democracy.
Balu has been booked under various Section 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 505(2) (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case is seen as a crackdown on freedom of expression. Critics are arguing that how can such arrests be made?
“There has been a worrying crackdown on free speech and dissent in India, whether slogans, social media commentary against ruling leaders, or arrests of journalists and activists who criticise the government,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.
The arrest comes barely a month after a Manipur journalist was sentenced to a year’s detention under the National Security Act. Kishorechandra Wangkhem, 39, was initially detained on November 27 to “prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and maintenance of public order”. The reason for his detention was a Facebook video that showed him criticising Chief Minister N Biren Singh as well as PM Modi.
Sarcastic Slogans were raised from both sides
Modi Sunday laid the foundation stone for the Rs 1,264 crore All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Thoppur near Madurai.
The MDMK had staged a blackflag protest against Modi shortly before he arrived in Mdurai, accusing him of betraying the interests of the state. Over 100 MDMK workers led by its chief Vaiko were detained over the protest and later let off. – PTI
In a counter move, BJP youth wing supporters put up posters sarcastically “welcoming Vaiko” Slogans like “go back Modi,” and counter hashtags “Madurai thanks Modi,” and “TN welcomes Modi” trended on micro-blogging site Twitter.
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