Indian police detain another young Facebook user

Indian police have taken custody of yet another young person who allegedly used Facebook to criticize a public figure.

Indian police have taken custody of yet another young person who allegedly used Facebook to criticize a public figure.

Sunil Vishwakarma, a 20-year-old computer science student, was taken into custody Wednesday. The exact words are unclear, but police say he made two “vulgar” comments about the nephew of Bal Thackeray, a controversial and recently deceased political figure.

This comes on the heels of the Nov. 18 arrests of two young women who complained on Facebook about Thackeray’s funeral. One wrote that people “are born and die daily” and that Thackeray didn’t deserve a pompous funeral; another liked the status.

Though it’s illegal under Section 66A of India’s Information Technology act to “abuse” someone else online, there’s been substantial backlash from those women’s arrests. Their charges have since been dropped, two major police officials have been suspended, the magistrate who set their bail has been transferred, and politicians and legal scholars are petitioning to overturn that section of the law, saying it violates a constitutional right to free speech.

Police told The Hindu that they haven’t formally arrested Vishwakarma—who has claimed he was hacked—until they could verify that he actually posted the comments.

“We do not want to repeat the same mistakes committed a few days ago,” an officer said.

Photo of Thackeray’s nephew via Raj Thackeray/Facebook

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