New Delhi/Mumbai: Terming the arrest of two girls in Mumbai for their Facebook posts on the shutdown during Bal Thackeray's funeral as an "assault" on freedom of speech, CPI on Tuesday accused Maharashtra Government of being "scared" of Shiv Sena and asked it to own up responsibility for the incident.
Patry National Secretary D Raja decried the action as "draconian" and wondered whether people have even lost their right to express their opinion freely.
"It is an assault on freedom of speech. It is the point of view of young people and they are not dangerous. It was just a comment. Maharashtra government has acted in a facist manner," he said.
Raja, a Rajya Sabha MP, alleged the Prithviraj Chavan government was "scared" of Shiv Sena. "The arrest was a fallout of that (fear). The chief minister should take responsibility for the draconian action of the police," Raja said.
Earlier, Press Council of India chairman Justice Katju raised the question before Maharashtra chief minister, “Are we living in a democracy or not? How can a person be arrested for objecting to the shutdown in Mumbai on Thackeray's death? Article 21 of the Constitution, to uphold which you have taken an oath, states that no one can be deprived of his life or liberty except in accordance with law. Does Article 21 not exist in Maharashtra? Does freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) also not exist in your state?”
The arrest opened a can of worms with netizens calling the move a “social media hijack by the powerful and the fundamentalists”.
Social media was abuzz with tweets and posts about the arrest, with most referring to the arrest as yet another move to curb freedom of speech on the Internet.
Dhada was arrested after she posted comments on social networking site opposing the shutdown in Mumbai after Thackeray died on Saturday. Dhada's friend Renu was arrested for 'liking' the post. (with PTI inputs)