When I first wrote this post on the 16th of November, I wasn’t entirely sure just where this whole farce of Bal Thackeray‘s death and the instant shut-down of Bombay was heading. It turns out, the city was ‘largely peaceful’, as our beloved media reports, ignoring full well the idea of a forced – or at least shit-scared – shut down of the megapolis.
The one thing, of course, which the Shiv Sena could not shut down was the Internet. You just can’t do that kind of a thing, no matter how strong your emotions run. But what you can do – what they did do – is constantly monitor social media posts people put up while sitting at home. And one such post was written by a 21 year old girl called Shaheen Dhada. She was arrested and booked under Sections 295A (outraging religous feelings of any class) of the Indian Penal Cod and the infamous Section 66A (sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.) of the Indian IT Act.
All for a message that said: “With all due respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on,” And some more lines of general lament after. This is what she was arrested and put in a 14-day judicial custody for. But it doesn’t stop here. Her friend Renu Srinivasan was also asked to give her company behind the bars because she had hit the ‘like’ button on this post.
To begin with, it’s fairly easy to see that neither Dhada nor Srinivasan had written or liked something that actually violated either of the laws. Why then, were they arrested? Why were they forced to withdraw their messages? And why were they not allowed to be released on bail instantly?
Because we live in a country with a lot of fascists. Blunt as it may sound, it’s the truth. Because if it weren’t the truth, there would be no reason for Bal Thackeray to live a free man after the hundreds of hate speeches he delivered in the city. There would be no reason for the government not to put him right behind the bars where he and all his followers belong. And there would be no reason for some of our most known faces on News channels to write blasphemously sycophantic memorial obituaries for this man.
And there would be absolutely, indisputably, no reason at all for people to wrap Bal Thackeray’s corpse in the tricolor and give him a 21-rifle salute.
- ‘Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not respect’ (thehindu.com)
- Anti-Thackeray Facebook post: 9 held for vandalizing clinic in Palghar (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
- Two girls held for FB post over Thackeray funeral (thehindu.com)
- India Ink: Women Arrested in Mumbai for Complaining on Facebook (india.blogs.nytimes.com)
- A Demagogue Freezes Mumbai for the Last Time – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Mumbai girls held for Facebook post against Thackeray (thehimalayantimes.com)
- 2 Mumbai girls in jail for tweet against Bal Thackeray – India Today (indiatoday.intoday.in)