Mumbai: Student booked, jailed for 'cyber terrorism' over Facebook post

Updated: Oct 13, 2018, 07:47 IST | Suraj Ojha | Mumbai

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

Sunny Gupta
Sunny 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."

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."

Also Read: Cases Filed Against Three For Allegedly Running A Fake Job Racket

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