May 23: Goa police’s cyber cell is looking for a junior shipbuilding technician accused of putting up an anti-Narendra Modi post on a Facebook forum in the run-up to the general election.
Devu Chodankar, 31, has been booked under penal, electoral and IT laws dealing with promoting enmity between groups, outraging religious feelings and sending communications that may arouse hatred. The police say he vanished after a Goa court denied him anticipatory bail yesterday.
The controversial post appeared on Goa+, a popular Facebook forum, in March in the context of a thread on Modi.
“There is imminent threat of Holocaust as it happened in Gujarat th(r)ough the garb of cunning policies of (Goa’s BJP chief minister Manohar) Parrikar,” the post said.
It added that this would also lead to Christians in Goa losing their identity. Police say the post was later deleted.
“Later, on another Facebook forum, called ‘Goa speaks’, Chodankar apologised for his choice of words but not the sum of his argument. He called the (earlier) post his crusade against the ‘tyranny of fascists’,” a Goa police officer alleged.
Atul Pai Kane, former chairman of business chamber CII’s Goa council, lodged an FIR against Chodankar sometime in March. A PTI report said Kane headed the Goa government’s committee on investment and industrial policy.
“Kane’s complaint accused Chodankar of making inflammatory statements and trying to create communal disharmony,” said senior inspector Rajesh Job, who is investigating the case.
The police say Chodankar ignored two summonses for questioning. They want his custody to probe whether he had plans to “promote communal and social disharmony” and to recover “cyber forensic evidence”.
“Prima facie, there’s been a legal violation. We need him in custody to collect some more evidence like hardware, etc,” Job said.
“The crime branch team is trying to locate him. We have already tracked his IP address, mail ID from Facebook, Google, etc.”
Job said Chodankar lived in Bicholim, north Goa, and worked with a local shipbuilding firm. His family hails from Maharashtra.
Chodankar’s Facebook account carried his details and pictures till this evening before changing around 7.30pm. His new profile picture is a black-and-white sketch of him with his mouth gagged. The tagline says: “I am a human being and I should have the freedom to express.”
Civil rights activists plan to protest outside the Goa police headquarters in Panjim around noon tomorrow, demanding the charges against Chodankar be dropped.