'Cops forced me to apologise'

Even as cops yesterday apprehended a few people for vandalising her uncle’s clinic, Shaheen Dhada — one of the two women arrested on Sunday for criticising on Facebook the shutdown in Mumbai after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s death — has alleged she was compelled to make an apology by police. The 21-year-old, who subsequently deleted her account on the social networking site, also claims someone has now created a fake account in her name.

Victim: Shaheen Dhada, who deleted her Facebook account after the incident, claims someone now has created a fake account in her name. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Speaking to MiD DAY, Shaheen — who completed her Bachelor in Media Study (BMS) in 2011 — maintains that following her Facebook post, the local police approached her to withdraw the comment and also tender an apology ‘to avoid any untoward incident’. However, her father Farooq Dhada later said the police never arrived at their residence.

Shaheen said, “Around 7 pm on Sunday the police arrived at my house and asked me to remove my post and also demanded that I apologise for it. My family accompanied me when I was taken to the police station where a few people were waiting for me. On reaching there I was asked to furnish a written apology.”

She added, “I wrote down what I was asked to and headed home. But still the Sena supporters went ahead and filed a complaint against me. Following this cops arrived at my home and took me into their custody.”

When inquired about the post Shaheen said, “I still stand by my comment, which is my personal view. I am not scared of any reaction from the mob.”

Farooq, however, had a different tale to tell. “The police did not come to our home. We were informed about a mob gathering near our house by some neighbours around 7.30 pm. After a while the cops called us up over the phone and said we were required to come to the police station in relation to the post that my daughter had written and submit an apology to avoid any untoward incident.”

Farooq is one of the four Dhada brothers, who have been residing in Palghar for many years. The eldest sibling Abdul is the doctor who owns the hospital that was ravaged. Farooq runs a textile business. The mob apparently mistook Shaheen to be Dr Abdul’s daughter, which led to the ransacking of the clinic. According to witnesses, the four patients were first removed from their beds by the angry mob, which later destroyed everything inside.

The other woman, Rini Srinivasan (20), is also at home. The Botany graduate has applied for a sound engineering course from a private institute in Chennai and her interview is scheduled for next week. She is worried about her future, as a police case is registered against her, and is unsure whether she would be allowed to leave the city, as she is presently on bail.

Speaking to MiD DAY, Rini said, “I do not know Shaheen personally; we are merely Facebook friends, though we are from the same college. Shaheen was senior to me. After reading her post, I initially ‘liked’ it and commented on it and even shared it. The problem started when my friends began commenting on my post.”

She added, “A few hours later, my friends informed me about Dhada hospital being ransacked by an angry mob. I was alone at home, and feared the worst. I immediately phoned my father, who came home and took me to the police station. Shaheen was already there and even I submitted a written apology.”

Rini added that she has not deleted her Facebook account and has merely deactivated it to tide over the controversy.  

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