A man has been arrested for allegedly being the administrator of a number of WhatsApp groups that were spreading purported communal messages and sexually explicit content, especially related to the bypolls in the state, police said.
The cyber wing of the Kolkata police arrested Param Roy Chowdhury, a resident of Nanoor in Birbhum, for allegedly running multiple WhatsApp groups, following a complaint from a south Kolkata resident.
Apart from the complaint from Kalighat resident Surak Mondal, there were multiple complaints against the groups with the Election Commission of India, the police said.
“From the content of the groups, it is clear that these groups have been created just before the bypolls with a purpose. It was reported to us that the groups were being used for spreading communal and sexually explicit messages,” said an officer in Lalbazar.
“Based on the complaint from the south Kolkata resident, we identified the group admin and arrested him from his home late on Wednesday,” the officer said.
The accused has been charged under sections of the Information Technology Act and under sections dealing with offences of promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between people on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings and making statements of public mischief.
If convicted, Roy Chowdhury can be sentenced to five years in jail.
The arrest came as an eye-opener for many who are in a habit of posting and forwarding text messages without realising the implications.
According to senior officers, many who have been summoned and questioned earlier for posting and circulating objectionable content – mostly political and communal in nature – either through WhatsApp or through social media platforms, claimed that they were unaware about the legal consequences.
“Many people are unaware about the consequences. The group admins are responsible for the nature of the content circulated in the group,” said the officer.