| Sulabh Goyal, who allegedly sent a death threat to the President by email, being taken to court in Delhi. (PTI)
Bhopal, July 30: Almost the entire township of Ashoknagar came out on the streets yesterday to seek pardon from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for local boy Sulabh Goyal.
Sulabh, under police custody in Delhi, had committed a major indiscretion on July 19 when he sent an email to Kalam threatening him with death.
The 19-year-old boy later said he was upset over a chain of public toilets called Sulabh Shauchalayas, which had made him a butt of jokes. Sulabh claimed he had earlier emailed to Kalam seeking a change in the toilet chain’s name but took the extreme step when he did not receive a response.
Over 20,000 residents of Ashoknagar in northeastern Madhya Pradesh have now signed a petition requesting the President to pardon Sulabh and get him released from police remand.
The placards read “Sorry Sir”, “Please pardon stupid Sulabh”, “We are sorry and ashamed of Sulabh”. The crowd consisted of mainly schoolchildren, local politicians cutting across party lines and business people.
At Subhashgunj Chowk, the crowd gathered after travelling through the town’s main roads. Speakers said Sulabh’s conduct was a “blot” on Ashoknagar. They prayed and hoped that Kalam being a “philosopher, scholar and scientist” would forgive Sulabh’s folly.
A number of women were heard sympathising with Sulabh. As Rekha Devi, a Chanderi saree weaver, said: “Sulabh apna bachcha hai. Galti ho gai aab maaf kar do (Sulabh is our child. He made a mistake but should be pardoned).”
The “apology letter” has been handed over to Ashoknagar district collector M.C. Gupta. Speaking to The Telegraph, Gupta said he would forward it to the President’s office in Delhi for “consideration”.
Some 275 persons are said to have sent hoax and threatening emails after the Mumbai blasts on July 11. A number of them hail from Madhya Pradesh. Shariq, a computer student from Bhopal, has been arrested and sent to Mumbai by Bhopal police after an email taking responsibility for the blasts was traced to him. Shariq’s father Shahid is a former bank branch manager and insists that his son is innocent.
Earlier, Sumit Tamrakar posed as the Simi chief and sent a mail ' to a daily newspaper and a news channel ' threatening to launch a terrorist strike here.
Cyber cafe owners across the state have been told to ascertain identities of all clients. Bhopal’s superintendent of police Anant Kumar Singh said he had received a draft circular asking all cyber caf' owners to provide information about Internet connections and leased lines, besides keeping a record of names, addresses, phone numbers and photographs of users.
The cyber cafes have also been asked to install a web camera and preserve the pictures for at least two months. Failure to comply with the instructions will invite cancellation of licence.