Shame on You Mumbai, Bombay was Better

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Washington, DC – The news item widely reported in the Indian media read like it was from one of the communist countries or one under a totalitarian regime, but it was true in the financial capital of India, a democracy.

According to media reports, Mumbai police on Sunday arrested 21 year old Shaheen Dhada for questioning the total shutdown in the city for Bal Thackeray’s funeral on her facebook page. Another young woman, 20 year old Renu Srinivasan from Palghar in the neighboring Thane district, who ‘liked” the comment, was also arrested.

“Her comment said people like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a ‘bandh’ (city shutdown) for that,” Police Inspector Uttam Sonawane told the Mumbai Mirror.

The Hindu newspaper quoted her lawyer, Sudheer Gupta, as citing the posting as, “With all respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on … Just due to one politician died a natural death, everyone just goes bonkers. They should know, we are resilient by force, not by choice. When was the last time, did anyone showed some respect or even a two-minute silence for Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Azad, Sukhdev or any of the people because of whom we are free-living Indians? Respect is earned, given, and definitely not forced. Today, Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not due to respect.”

The duo were booked under Section 295(a) of the IPC (for hurting religious sentiments ) and Section 64(a) of the Information Technology Act of 2000. Though Dhada withdrew her comment and apologized, a mob of some 2,000, in the name of Shiv Sena, attacked and ransacked her uncle’s orthopaedic clinic at Palghar, north of Mumbai.

Both the accused have been released on bail of thousands of Indian rupees, according to media reports.

Now instead of raising a voice against this highhanded Talibanization of Mumbai, there is a deafening silence from the political parties and Delhi, who is supposed to take care of these freedoms under the federal list outlined in the Indian constitution.

Our omnipresent on twitter, Nirupama Rao, the Indian Ambassador to the US, has kept her diplomatic silence intact while the young women are being put through such treatment in her own home country.

Also amazing is the silence from the US State Department, which has repeatedly voiced its concerns when twitter or google were in trouble in Asian countries or a girl is attacked in a Muslim country.

The onus of blame goes to ordinary Indians who can come out in millions to pay homage (under fear) to a manipulative politician, but when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, there is no one visible on the streets.

The amazing sensationalizing Indian media is doing its best to get viewership from couch potatoes by bringing those involved for live shows and getting the story all spiced up instead of asking the government to move. A couple of hours of putting up a show and then the shameless Indian media will move on to another story where some more sensationalism can be generated.

India America Today in unequivocal terms expresses its outrage over the treatment of the duo and demands an apology from the law and order agencies, in addition to refund of bail money and a clear chit to the girls.

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