The recent arrests of two young women for their mild criticism of powerful people “are certainly an abuse of the law.”
The Indian government will soon bar lower-level police officials from arresting people for making offensive comments on social networking sites unless the case is first reviewed by a senior police official, a top government official said Thursday.
Kapil Sibal, the communications minister, said during a television interview on Thursday that the recent arrests of two young women for their mild criticism of powerful people “are certainly an abuse of the law.”
But rather than change the law, he advocated changing its enforcement.
“The law is evolutionary, the process is evolutionary,” he said. “Let us now wait for another four to six months; let us wait to see if the process is adequate.”
The change comes a week after Shaheen Dhada, 21, a medical student from the outskirts of Mumbai, was arrested after she posted a mild protest on her Facebook account about the fact that Mumbai, India’s most populous city, had been nearly completely shut down after the death of Bal K. Thackeray, a right-wing hard-liner.
After Renu Srinivasan, 20, Ms. Dhada’s friend, clicked “Like” on Ms. Dhada’s Facebook post, she was also arrested.
The arrests led to national outrage, a storm of coverage in Indian newspapers and television news channels, and tens of thousands of comments on Twitter and Facebook. The policemen who arrested the women were suspended, and the charges against the women were dropped Thursday, according to Indian news media reports.
via The New York Times – GARDINER HARRIS
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