Lucknow, Feb. 5: An Uttar Pradesh government employee was arrested last night for allegedly posting on Facebook “inflammatory and communally charged” contents insulting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union minister Kapil Sibal and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Police today produced Sanjay Chaudhary in a court, which sent the engineer to jail custody for three days.
One of the sections the Agra resident has been booked under is 66A of the Information Technology Act, a controversial clause that was used last year against two Maharashtra women and a Jadavpur University professor.
Police sources said Chaudhary’s political links were being probed but refused to reveal the “inflammatory” contents. They said the civil engineer with the public works department had been posting such inflammatory contents through cartoons.
Chaudhary, however, told reporters in Agra that “anti-social elements had uploaded the contents after hacking my Facebook account”.
Agra police officer S.C. Rana said Chaudhry’s account had been under observation. “He was trying to draw the attention of other users by repeating some of these cartoons,” he said. “The first complaint was in November. The case was referred to the cyber crime unit in December.”
It appears the police reacted strongly because the cartoons allegedly depicted Mulayam in a way that could provoke communal passions. “The remarks along with the cartoons were designed to provoke communal hatred,” Agra SSP S.C. Dubey said.
The state police have had to cope with six riots since March last year. “We have acted purely to stop any further breakdown in law and order,” Dubey said.
Sources in Agra said central intelligence officials had alerted the police that the alleged contents insulted both the Prime Minister and telecom minister Sibal. The case was “fast-tracked” immediately.
The engineer’s arrest was the latest over online posts. In November, the two Maharashtra women were arrested for questioning why Mumbai had to shut down for Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray’s funeral.
The arrests led to a petition against Section 66A that makes it a crime for anyone to digitally send information that is “grossly offensive” or has “menacing character” or which causes anyone “annoyance” or “inconvenience”.
An industrialist in Puducherry was arrested in October for allegedly posting “offensive” messages on Twitter against Union minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti. In April last year, a Jadavpur University professor was arrested for circulating a cartoon.