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.


Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

Updated 22 April 2018
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Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the suspect came and stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.