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Maharashtra Police warns against liking “objectionable” posts on Facebook

Maharashtra police plans to take action against people who “like” objectionable posts pertaining to Chhatrapati Shivaji, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Facebook, reports The Times Of India.

Nanded police have told the publication that these people would be booked under the Section 66 (a) of the IT Act and under the Code of Criminal Procedure. The report says the police have also applied Section 295 (a) of the IPC which deals with “hurting religious sentiments”.

This follows protests over alleged morphed photos of Chhatrapati Shivaji, late Shiv Sena head Bal Thackeray and and Hindu gods which reportedly appeared on Facebook over the weekend and were later re-circulated on WhatsApp. These protests also apparently led to the death of Pune techie who was allegedly killed by the protest mob.

Arrest for liking a post?

What’s strange and worrying here is the fact that Maharashtra Police doesn’t seem understand there is a difference between liking a post and commenting on it. We feel there is nothing illegal or criminal about liking someone else’s updates, since in no way does it change the statement made by some one else. Even sharing a post does not amount to modifying it, only to its distribution.

This reminds us of a similar case in November 2012, wherein a person was arrested for “liking” a friend’s update about Bal Thackeray on Facebook. This is exactly what the government clarification on Section 66A sought to address, but it appears that Maharashtra Police has its own ideas.

Earlier this month, we also witnessed two incidents of arrest: an MBA student was arrested for allegedly sending an “offensive message” on WhatsApp while another person in Mumbai was arrested for posting on the Goa+ Facebook Group, that if elected to power, Modi would unleash a ‘holocaust’.

These arrests could lead to people having a significantly lower propensity to voice criticism and dissent and make fun of developments in a public forum.

(with inputs from Brindaalakshmi K)

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