Social media company Facebook on Friday said that it has removed an Instagram post shared by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that revealed the identity of the family of a nine-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly raped, murdered and forcibly cremated in Delhi, reported The Indian Express.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, said the post violated its policies. The company informed Gandhi about taking down the post through an email.
On August 4, Gandhi had met the family of the minor in Delhi Cantonment’s Purana Nangal village. Later, he posted a 35-second video on Instagram showing him and the girl’s parents inside a car. Facebook had on Tuesday issued a notice to Gandhi.
Facebook’s move came days after the National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights sent a letter to the social media giant calling for action against Gandhi’s account. The NCPCR had also summoned Satya Yadav, the head of the Trust and Safety Department at Facebook India.
India has strict laws against revealing the identity of minor rape victims, even if they are dead. The law and subsequent judicial interpretations of it have made it clear that using the names or photos of rape victims or their families is illegal – unless explicit permission has been given by a special court or sessions judge.
In its email to Gandhi, Facebook said that the post was “unlawful” under Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Section 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, or POCSO, Act, 2012, and Section 288A of the Indian Penal Code. All these sections forbid the disclosure of the identity of a minor.
After Facebook provided a copy of the email to the NCPCR, the child rights body exempted the social media giant from summons.
Earlier this month, Gandhi’s Twitter account was “temporarily locked” for sharing the same photo after the NCPCR flagged the matter to Twitter India’s resident grievance officer. However, the matter snowballed into a political game as the Congress party accused the Narendra Modi-led government of intimidating Twitter, instead of ensuring justice to the Dalit girl’s family.
Gandhi’s Twitter account was restored on August 14.
Dalit girl’s rape
The Dalit girl was allegedly raped and murdered on August 1 after she went to get water from a cooler at a crematorium in Delhi. The accused are said to have forcibly cremated her later.
Four persons – Radhey Shyam, Kuldeep, Laxmi Narayan and Salim – were arrested on August 2. While Shyam is a priest, the other three men are all acquaintances of the girl’s mother.
Initially, a case under Sections 304 (causing death by negligence), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code was filed at Delhi Cantonment police station.
However, after nearly 200 local residents held a protest demanding that the accused people be arrested, Indian Penal Code Sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 376 (punishment for rape), and relevant sections of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act were added, reports said.