- The women’s detention caused widespread criticism of Section 66 (a) of the Indian Information Technology Act.
Shaheen Dhada, the 21-year-old woman who was temporarily detained by police last month for questioning on Facebook why Mumbai had to shut down after local leader Bal Thackeray died is back on the social-networking site.
In the wake of Mr. Thackeray’s death in November, his supporters forced shops in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, to shut their doors in respect.
Ms. Dhada took issue with this. “Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear not due to respect!!!” she wrote on her Facebook page. A friend, Rinu Srinivasan, “liked” the comment.
Police detained both women after a local member of the Shiv Sena, a political party founded in the 1970s by Mr. Thackeray, complained about her comment. They later were released but not until police filed charges against them.
Ms. Dhada shut her Facebook account after her detention.
Her detention was widely criticized in India as a restriction of free speech.
On Saturday, almost a month after her detention, Ms. Dhada posted on her Facebook profile “I am back..!!.” Her friends welcomed her and one of them even called her a “world heroine.”
But this case has made both women cautious.
“I’ll be careful in the future,” while posting on Facebook, Ms. Dhada told India Real Time. She added that she was surprised by the furor her comment had generated.
Ms. Srinivasan was inactive on Facebook for only a week after her arrest. Ms. Srinivasan said the first two days were disturbing but now she is no longer worried. “But I am not going to post anything about political parties or controversial issues,” she said.
After widespread criticism of the arrests, the Maharashtra state government announced last month that the charges against the women will be dropped. Two police officers also were suspended for registering the case. But officially the case hasn’t been wound up. Vijay Sagar, the police officer in charge of the case said that the investigation is ongoing and he cannot say when they will close the investigation.
Still, the women are being left alone. Ms. Dhada is applying for an MBA course and Ms. Srinivasan is hoping to study at an audio engineering institute in Chennai.
The Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad has invited both girls for an informal discussion with students later this month about India’s controversial Information Technology Act.
The women’s detention caused widespread criticism of Section 66 (a) of the Indian Information Technology Act, under which the two women were charged. In response, India’s telecom ministry in November introduced guidelines making it harder for police to register cases against people accused of online hate speech.
A petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 66 (a) of the IT Act will be heard in the Supreme Court on Jan. 14.