The Telegraph
Saturday , November 24 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe slams FB cops

Mumbai, Nov. 23: An inquiry report has slammed Thane police for arresting two young women over a Facebook comment relating to Bal Thackeray’s funeral and recommended action against the cops responsible.

Sources said the state government was likely to drop the charges against Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, who respectively posted and “liked” the comment questioning the shutdown in Mumbai on the day of Thackeray’s funeral. Both are on bail.

Inspector-general Sukhwinder Singh conducted the inquiry under instructions from the state police chief. His report today reached the state home department.

“I’m very happy and relieved. I’m glad the charges will be dropped,” Shaheen said.

Initially, the women had been booked under Section 295A (insulting religion) and the IT Act but the first charge was later replaced by Section 505(2), dealing with promoting enmity between classes.

Police sources said the report had termed all the charges “unjustified” and suggested “departmental/administrative action against the erring officials”.

NDTV has aired a video of a cop talking to a mob outside the police station at Palghar, where the arrests were made. It has alleged the policeman tried to pacify the crowd by saying a case would be registered against the women for hurting their sentiments, despite their apology.

Officials did not confirm whether the video had been considered in the inquiry, nor would they name the indicted policemen or say what action might be taken.

PTI said the inquiry had recorded the statements of Thane (rural) superintendent of police (SP) Ravindra Sengaokar, additional SP Sangramsinh Nishandar and senior inspector Srikant Pingle.

Activists have been demanding the women be compensated for harassment. The Dhada family hopes to be compensated for the Rs 15-lakh damage caused by a mob to a hospital owned by Shaheen’s uncle Abdul. The police had arrested 10 men, including Shiv Sena members, but they have all received bail.

Palghar Sena chief Bhushan Sankhe had asked the police to lodge an FIR against the women. The girls were summoned to the police station, where they submitted a written apology, but were arrested the next day.

The state government had faced similar embarrassment in September when cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested and charged with sedition. After Bombay High Court rapped the police, the state dropped the charge of sedition but retained some other charges.