The Karnataka Police on Saturday arrested a Mangaluru activist after a complaint was filed against him for a social media post mocking a project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reintroducing cheetahs into India, reported The Hindu.
In a Facebook post on October 3, the activist named Sunil Bajilakeri had shared a morphed photo of a pregnant woman with the face of a cheetah. He then asked when is the “baby shower” of one of the eight cheetahs that arrived in India from Namibia last month. He was apparently referring to speculation that the cheetah was pregnant, a piece of news that had later turned out to be false.
A complaint was filed against Bajilakeri by a woman from Yedapadavu on Friday, alleging that the post had defamed women and this would cause unrest in society, reported The New Indian Express.
The police registered her complaint under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code as well as under Section 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.
When the police went to serve a notice to Bajilakeri, the Billava community leader tore the notice and protested the move, reported the Deccan Herald. Following this, the police booked him under Section 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code.
However, on Saturday the jurisdictional magistrate granted bail to Bajilakeri.
The activist was formerly associated with the Sangh Parivar. But he went on to become one of the critics of the Bharatiya Janata Party and also organised a programme called “Hindutvadinda Bandhuthvadedege [from Hindutva to human relationships]”, reported The Indian Express.
Democratic Youth Federation of India Karnataka President Muneer Katipalla had sought Bajilakeri’s release on Friday. Katipalla also questioned Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai if such arrests were a message to public to not to speak about those in power.
“When the common public goes to the cyber police with complaints, they are made to sit for hours,” Katipalla wrote on Facebook. “An FIR is registered against Sunil Bajilakeri without any evidence. Usually, such arrests are done in criminal cases. Which state is this Bommai?”