Youth arrested for 'objectionable' Facebook post against UP minister Azam Khan

Rampur: A Class XII male student was arrested for allegedly posting on Facebook 'objectionable' comment against senior SP leader and Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan, sparking outrage against the police action.

The student of a Bareilly school was sent to jail by a local court on Tuesday after being booked under the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology(IT) Act and for breach of peace by the Rampur police.

Circle Officer Aley Hassan said in Rampur that the boy had posted comments on Facebook which could incite communal tensions and spoil peace and harmony. In the post, Khan was targeted on the basis of a provocative remark allegedly made by him that turned out to be 'fake', police said. "A quote was posted on Facebook on March 15 that was attributed to the Cabinet Minister (Khan) but it turned out to be fake," Rampur SP Sadhna Goswami said.

He was arrested on Monday on a complaint lodged with the police by the minister's PRO Fasahat Ali Khan Shanu. A team of crime branch sleuths was constituted which nabbed the youth from his residence. The youth was produced on Tuesday before Judicial Magistrate Azad Singh who sent him on 14-day remand and a hearing on his bail plea is scheduled for on Thursday.

Azam Khan defended the police action. "A Class XII student has made objectionable comments against me on FB. Law is enforced with strictness and he has been arrested within 24 hours. Comments were made against me earlier also on FB," Khan told reporters in Lucknow.

Condemning the arrest of the student, BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said, "They (police) should have avoided sending the student to jail as he is a minor. The CM and government work under pressure of Azam," he alleged. BJP state chief Laxmikant Bajpai said that the matter could have been resolved by talking to the student.

However, this isn't the first time that someone has gone to jail in UP over a post deemed objectionable. In August 2013, Dalit scholar Kanwal Bharti was arrested for a Facebook post against the Samajwadi Party over IAS officer Durga Nagpal's suspension. In that case as well, the FIR against the writer had been filed by an aide of Azam Khan after the SP leader took offence to it.

Meanwhile, UP State Child Rights Protection Commission Chairperson Juhie Singh sought a clarification from the police in this regard. "Under what circumstances was the student arrested?" she asked. Shanu said social media should be used to connect, to spread love and to convey your message to others. "But some people are doing mischief in it. This kind of mischief can turn out to be very costly," he said.

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