Shiv Sena protests Suspension of Cops, shuts down Palghar

TNI Bureau:The Shiv Sena has called for a bandh in Palghar district today in protest against the suspension of two policemen for arresting two young women for an anti-bandh post on Facebook on Sunday over Mumbai shutting during the day of Bal Thackeray’s funeral.

On November 18, Shaheen, 21, had posted, “Everyday 1000s of people die but still the world moves on. Just due to one political leaders death… everyone just goes bonkers. They should know we are resilient by force, not by choice. Respect is earned, not given and definitely not forced. Today Mumbai shuts down due to fear and not due to respect.” Her friend Rinu, 21,”liked” it.

After their post on Facebook, both women from Palghar, were arrested under Section 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and Section 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the IT Act. However, the Bombay High Court granted them bail on a bond of Rs. 15,000 each.

The arrest of the two women sparked outrage across India and was taken as flagrant misuse of Internet laws and an attempt to curb freedom of expression. Consequently, SP Ravindra Sengaonkar and senior police inspector Shrikant Pingle were suspended on Tuesday for the arrest of the two women.

A third Palghar cop, an Additional Superintendent of Police, has also been issued a letter of displeasure by Maharastra Government on this issue. In addition, the Bombay High Court also transferred the judge who sent the two 21-year-old women to judicial custody after their arrest, and then granted them bail.

However, the defiant Shiv Sena announced Palghar bandh in protest over the action initiated against the cops. Sena activists have put up banners announcing the bandh at strategic locations in Palghar, including at the Palghar Railway Station and at Hutatma Chowk located in the heart of the city. Autorickshaws will be off roads, and hotels and other commercial establishments have been asked to remain shut. However, essentials including milk supply and hospitals have been exempted from the 12-hour bandh.

Around 83 members affiliated to the Palghar Bar Association (PBA) also decided to boycott the Palghar Sessions Court on Wednesday to protest the transfer of the Palghar judicial magistrate.

Meanwhile, Shaheen and her family have already left Palghar for their native place in Gujarat in order to escape the raging controversy. A clinic owned by her uncle was also ransacked by a group of alleged Shiv Sena workers. The other girl, Reenu, will also be leaving Palghar.

On the whole, time has come to curb the political intolerance over the fundamental right to speech and expression granted by our constitution.

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