Stu­dent booked, jailed for ‘cy­ber ter­ror­ism’ over Face­book post

Ghatkopar biz­man raises alarm over stu­dent’s post ask­ing Hin­dus to re­frain from vis­it­ing Ajmer Sharif dar­gah; stu­dent’s brother ques­tions why he was held for cy­ber ter­ror, cops say they were fol­low­ing the law

Mid Day - - CITY - SU­RAJ OJHA su­raj.ojha@mid-day.com Gauri Prasad Gupta

SEC­OND-year civil en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Sunny Gupta got out of jail on Fri­day af­ter fin­ish­ing close to one and a half months there for a pe­cu­liar ‘crime’: a Face­book post about why Hin­dus should re­frain from vis­it­ing the Ajmer Sharif dar­gah. He was jailed for cy­ber ter­ror­ism and try­ing to cre­ate re­li­gious dishar­mony.

The saga be­gan on Au­gust 31, when the Ghatkopar po­lice re­ceived a com­plaint from lo­cal busi­ness­man Zakrul Khan, stat­ing that Sunny has posted an ar­ti­cle on Face­book that is not healthy for the so­ci­ety, as it can cre­ate bit­ter­ness be­tween two re­li­gions. As per Khan’s com­plaint, he spot­ted a few peo­ple read­ing some­thing in their mo­bile phones.

Im­me­di­ately filed FIR

When he asked them what it was, one of them showed him Sunny’s Face­book post ti­tled, ‘Why Hin­dus should not visit Ajmer Sharif Dar­gah’. The post al­legedly also men­tioned cer­tain defam­a­tory re­marks against Kh­waja Moin­ud­din Chishti and Prithvi­raj Chauhan. It had been up­loaded at 7.32 pm on Au­gust 30.

Cops im­me­di­ately filed an FIR against Sunny un­der sec­tions 153(A) (Pro­mot­ing en­mity be­tween dif­fer­ent groups on grounds of re­li­gion, race, place of birth, res­i­dence, lan­guage, etc., and do­ing acts prej­u­di­cial to main­te­nance of har­mony), 295 (A) (De­lib­er­ate and ma­li­cious acts, in­tended to out­rage re­li­gious feel­ings of any class by in­sult­ing its re­li­gion or re­li­gious be­liefs) of the In­dian Pe­nal Code and 66 (F) (cy­ber ter­ror­ism) of the In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Act.

Just a few hours later, cops came knock­ing on Sunny’s door, and put him be­hind bars. He was let out on Fri­day night, af­ter spend­ing close to one and a half months in jail.

‘As per the law’

All the Ghatkopar cops said to jus­tify the ac­tion is that they’ve taken it in ac­cor­dance with the law. Se­nior in­spec­tor of Ghatkopar po­lice sta­tion, Sud­hir Nigud­kar said, “What­ever ac­tion has been taken in the case is as per the law.”

For­mer state DGP Pravin Dixit said, “Talk­ing any ac­tion with­out ex­am­in­ing it legally is likely to be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.”

Sunny’s elder brother Gauri Prasad dis­agrees. He told mid-day, “This is very un­fair on the part of the po­lice. How did they book my brother un­der the [cy­ber] ter­ror­ism act? His in­ten­tion was not to spread bit­ter­ness in the so­ci­ety. Mean­while, the sec­tions which po­lice charged him un­der have spoiled his ca­reer. How­ever, we have faith in the ju­di­ciary.”

‘This is very un­fair on the part of the po­lice. How did they book my brother un­der the [cy­ber] ter­ror­ism act? His in­ten­tion was not to spread bit­ter­ness in the so­ci­ety’

Can’t be so ca­sual

Se­nior ad­vo­cate Sub­hash Jha, who has been over­see­ing the case said, “He re­pro­duced his­tory that is widely avail­able on so­cial me­dia, and it should be come un­der free­dom of ex­pres­sion. The pro­vi­sion of 66F is at­tracted when there is a threat to unity, in­tegrity, se­cu­rity or sovereignty of In­dia, but that is not the case here. It would be ap­pli­ca­ble in a case, for ex­am­ple, when a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion like ISIS uses tech­no­log­i­cal means to at­tack any in­sti­tu­tion of our coun­try, say Bom­bay Stock Ex­change, which will bring the coun­try to a stand­still. But this pro­vi­sion can­not be ap­plied in a ca­sual or cav­iler man­ner like the way it has been in this case.”

Ghos­alkar’s in­ter­ven­tion will mean the chil­dren can at least ap­pear for their ex­ams

Sunny Gupta

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