At least eight people have been arrested, two booked and one suspended from a government job across the country for their social media posts on the death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, reported The Indian Express.
Action against such posts has been taken in Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan.
Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others had died on Wednesday in the helicopter crash in the Katteri-Nanchappanchathram area of Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor district. The helicopter took off from the Sulur air base in Tamil Nadu and was on its way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, nearly three kilometres north of Coonoor.
The maximum number of arrests were reported from Rajasthan – the first one hours after the crash and two more on Saturday.
On Saturday, the Pratapgarh police arrested 28-year-old Manish Kumar Meena and 25-year-old Jeevanlal Ninama for allegedly posting “offensive” content on the crash.
In a statement, the police said the remarks made by arrested people had “hurt public sentiments”.
On Wednesday, the police arrested 21-year-old Jawaad Khan in Tonk district for his alleged “inappropriate” remarks on Instagram about General Rawat. A police constable, in a complaint, said that Khan’s remarks promoted enmity between communities.
“Khan has been arrested under Section 505 (2) [making statements with intent to cause public mischief or alarm to public] and has been sent to judicial custody,” said Tonk Circle Officer Chandra Singh.
The Karnataka Police have booked two people for alleged derogatory messages on Rawat’s death under Section 505 (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
The cases were filed against the two persons identified as Vasanth Kumar TK and Shrinivas Karkala on a complaint filed by man named Sushanth Poojari, reported the Hindustan Times. The two users had uploaded posts celebrating Rawat’s death. according to the complaint.
“No arrests have been made so far,” Mangaluru city Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar said.
Kumar added that the police would investigate whether the accounts that posted the “objectionable content” were real or uploaded from fake accounts.
On Friday, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said that “offensive tweets and social media posts” about the helicopter crash will not be tolerated.
Two people were arrested in Gujarat on Thursday and Friday.
The man arrested on Friday has been identified as Feroz Diwan, son of a retired police sub-inspector. He was released on bail on Saturday.
“Diwan deleted the post but kept screenshots on his mobile phone,” Inspector KD Mandora said. “We have seized the phone.”
Diwan has been charged under sections 153 (giving provocation with an intention to cause riot), 153 (B) (imputations prejudicial to national integration), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), 505 (1B) (intent to incite and create fear among the public) and Information Technology Act 84 (c) (punishment for an attempt to commit offence) of the Indian Penal Code.
On Thursday, the police arrested Shivabhai Ram for his alleged post on the helicopter crash.
“The accused came under our radar after he shared some derogatory posts on General Bipin Rawat,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police of Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Cell JM Yadav, according to PTI.
Yadav added: “Upon scanning his timeline, we realised that he had earlier shared objectionable posts about Hindu gods and goddesses. He had also used derogatory words for elected representatives in his Facebook posts in the past.”
A tribal youth leader, Durgesh Vaskale, was arrested on Saturday in Khandwa district for his alleged remarks on Facebook about the general’s death. The post has been removed.
“An objectionable post was made on Facebook by the accused, Durgesh Vaskale, on the death of General Bipin Rawat,” said Superintendent of Police Vivek Singh, according to The Times of India. “We received a complaint against him, following which an investigation was initiated and the accused arrested and sent to jail,”
Bharatiya Panata Party MLA Ram Dangore had complained against Vaskale, saying that he regularly posted offensive remarks and should be tried under the National Security Act.
Jammu and Kashmir
A shopkeeper identified as Mohammad A Shafi was arrested in Rajouri district for allegedly forwarding a Facebook post against Rawat, according to The Indian Express.
“We have detained him under preventive provisions,” said Rajouri Station House Officer Sameer Jeelani.
Earlier on Friday, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank suspended one of its staff members for allegedly reacting to a news story on the chopper crash with a laughing emoticon.
“The contents are purely defamatory and not in consonance with conduct rules governing the service of the employee,” the suspension order said.
Disciplinary proceedings are pending against her.
YouTuber Maridhas was arrested in Madurai city on Thursday for his tweet about the helicopter crash.
In the tweet, which has now been deleted, Maridhas had claimed that Tamil Nadu was “turning into another Kashmir under DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] rule”, according to The News Minute. He also claimed that it was possible “for any kind of plot to be hatched here [in Tamil Nadu].”
The YouTuber, in another tweet which is still available, accused DMK supporters of “mocking the death of an army commander in an accident”. “It is an undeniable fact that the DMK has been the best choice for separatist forces,” a translation of his tweet in Tamil said, according to The News Minute.
Maridhas has been booked under sections 505(2) (statements which are alarming, false intention to create disharmony) and 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code, the Madurai Police told The News Minute.