Outrage in India over arrests for FB post

Updated 21 November 2012
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Outrage in India over arrests for FB post

NEW DELHI: As India’s financial capital shut down for the weekend funeral of a powerful politician linked to waves of mob violence, a woman posted on Facebook that the closures in Mumbai were “due to fear, not due to respect.” A friend of hers hit the “like” button.
For that, both women were arrested.
Analysts and the media are slamming the Maharashtra state government for what they said was a flagrant misuse of the law and an attempt to curb freedom of expression. The arrests were seen as a move by police to prevent any outbreak of violence by supporters of Bal Thackeray, a powerful Hindu fundamentalist politician who died Saturday.
“We are living in a democracy, not a fascist dictatorship,” Markandey Katju, a former Supreme Court justice who now heads the Press Council of India, wrote in a protest letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra.
Katju demanded that the state government suspend the police officers who had ordered the arrests and prosecute them.
The women withdrew the comment and apologized, but angry Thackeray supporters ransacked an orthopedic clinic run by the uncle of one woman.
A lawyer representing the women, Sudheer Gupta, said police arrested them Sunday, the day of the funeral, on charges of creating enmity and hatred. They were released on bail Monday.
Shaheen Dhada, the 21-year-old who posted the comment appeared on television yesterday, her face covered by a scarf so that only her eyes were visible.
Clearly terrified by her arrest and the attack on her uncle’s clinic, Dhada told NDTV television she would never again make comments on a social networking site. Both women said they have deactivated their Facebook accounts.





Dhada described her arrest as “unfair.” “It was not a crime,” Renu Srinivas, Dhada’s friend who also was arrested, told NDTV.
India’s Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said he was “deeply saddened” by the arrests of the two women.
“Freedom of speech is a very important right, and we need to protect it,” Sibal told reporters. He said the government would re-examine the laws governing information technology to prevent its misuse by the police.
“We want to make sure that this law is not meant to prevent people from stating their point of view on any issue,” Sibal said yesterday.
Analysts say it was as sense of fear that kept millions of people off the streets of the bustling city on Sunday. Nearly 20,000 policemen patrolled the deserted streets, mainly because of the violent history of the Shiv Sena.
No violence occurred Sunday. A day later, a relieved Mumbai police chief, Satyapal Singh, praised the “unexpectedly orderly behavior” of Thackeray’s supporters.
But the thuggish behavior was in evidence Monday when a mob of Thackeray’s supporters stormed the orthopedic clinic, destroying its operating rooms and much of its equipment. Nurses and patients fled but no one was hurt.
Yesterday, police said they had detained nine men for their involvement in the attack of the clinic. It was not immediately clear if the men belonged to the Shiv Sena.
The Mumbai arrests came barely two months after the Maharashtra police arrested a political cartoonist on sedition charges for drawings that mocked corruption in the Indian government. The charges were dropped and the cartoonist is out on bail. Earlier this year, a university professor was arrested in the state of West Bengal for forwarding an e-mail cartoon that caricatured the chief minister there.


Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

Updated 56 min 53 sec ago
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Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

  • Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal
  • Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic

BERLIN: Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal, police said Sunday.
Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic. The detonation was so severe it destroyed the building’s attic and the top three floors, the German news agency dpa reported.
Fire then broke out in several different parts of the apartment building and firefighters had trouble dousing the flames because parts of the building kept collapsing. They were able to rescue four severely injured from inside the building and sent them to the hospital. Another 21 people were slightly injured and treated by emergency staff at the scene.
Police said Sunday they were still trying to get the fire under control and were investigating the cause of the explosion. They would not comment when asked if the explosion could possibly be terror-related.
A car nearby was destroyed, buried under window frames that were blown onto it by the impact of the explosion. Emergency personnel on Sunday picked up bricks and furniture on the street from the explosion.
Some of the building’s roof beams stood black and eerie in the smoke as police scoured accessible parts of the building for further people trapped inside before giving the all-clear.
The place where the building stood is now a huge gap in a row of apartment buildings in the city’s Langerfeld neighborhood.