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Closure at last

The Maharashtra police are preparing a closure report in relation to the Palghar Facebook case, in which two young women were arrested over comments they had posted protesting the shutdown in the city following the death of Bal Thackeray.

A closure report is usually filed when the police, after investigating a matter thoroughly, come to the conclusion that there is no case against the accused, as the charges levelled against them aren’t applicable. The report is submitted to the court.


What a relief! Shaheen Dhada and Rini Srinivasan were arrested on November 19 and released on bail

“We will be submitting a closure report in the case soon,” confirmed Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal. The DGP had hinted yesterday that the charges against the two girls may be dropped. This comes in the wake of a report submitted by the Special Inspector general of Police for the Konkan Range Sukhwinder Singh, which stated that the charges against the girls were unjustified. Singh was heading a high level probe that was ordered into the case, in the wake of widespread outrage over the arrests.

The Superintendent of Rural Police in Thane Ravindra Sengaonkar and Senior Police Inspector Shrikant Pingle of Palghar have been suspended for their role in the arrests. Activists however believe that the suspension is not enough, and the police officials deserve to be arrested for wrongfully confining two young women. Activist and former cop Y P Singh asked, “Why not prosecute the cops for ignoring the arrest guidelines and wrongfully confining two girls?”

“The last few days have been very tense, and this will give us a bit of relief,” said Rini’s father Srinivasan. He added, “We were asked to report to the police station every Wednesday. Thanks to the decision to close the case, we won’t have to keep going there. Rini will be leaving for Chennai to study Audio Engineering very soon, so it’s good that all the charges have been dropped against her. I am not very sure about the decision of the government to suspend the police, as they were very helpful to us.”

Meanwhile Dr Vijay Dhada, Shaheen’s uncle, said, “This is a very welcome decision for us. Now this will end all visits to the police station and courts for Shaheen, who has completed Bachelor of Business Management. She can concentrate on her career further.”

Lessons learnt
Meanwhile, wary of repeating their past mistakes, the Palghar police have let off Sunil Vishwakarma, a 19-year-old resident of Palghar who had been detained on Wednesday for allegedly posting ‘abusive’ comments against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray on his Facebook page. He had insisted that his account had been hacked into. Experts in the cyber cell had corroborated his claims.  

SC: why did no one approach us before?
The Supreme Court heard a plea for the amendment of the IT Act yesterday. The hearing was in response to a petition filed by Shreya Singhal, a student in Delhi. In her public interest litigation (PIL), Shreya had argued that the language used in the Act is obscure and unclear, making it susceptible to misuse and abuse. She had also stated that Section 66(A) of the Act was unconstitutional, as it condoned arrests based on messages that are ‘offensive’ or ‘annoying’. It provides for upto three years in jail.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J Chelameswar took cognizance of the arrest of the two young women and the outrage it had caused across the country, and asked why the arrests had been made after sunset, which is in clear violation of norms that prevent the arrest of women at that time. “The way the little children were arrested, it outraged the sentiments of the people of the country. The way these things had been taking place needs consideration,” said Kabir, adding, “We were wondering why no one has approached the Supreme Court and even thought of taking up the issue suo moto.” The issue will be taken up for hearing again today.

MiDDAY people’s freedom charter
>> Citizens have the right to absolute freedom of speech and expression. It is our right to speak our mind and express our opinion without any fear.
>> Citizens have the right to question authority without the fear of retribution.
>> Citizens shall defend the liberty for artists and their creative freedom. Art, in any form, should flourish in an atmosphere of intellectual creativity, and should stimulate debate, not violence.
>> Citizens shall oppose any kind of intimidation, and shall not live in fear. Both have no place in a democracy.
>> Citizens shall oppose a police state. We shall defend the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, and fight the laws tailored to be interpreted arbitrarily in favour those of in charge. 

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