Sikha Sarma, a Guwahati-based writer and vocal critic of the state government, was arrested on Tuesday over a Facebook post that was accused in an FIR of “causing disrespect to martyrs”.
Advocates Umi Deka Baruah and Kangkana Goswami had on Monday lodged the FIR with Dispur police against the “distasteful” Facebook post, which seemed to allude to Saturday’s Maoist massacre of 22 security personnel in Chhattisgarh.
The FIR says the post “maligned and disregarded the sacrifice of our martyrs by urging the media not to generate public sentiments in their favour and not to treat them as swahids as they are drawing salary for the services they are providing to the nation”.
Monday’s three-line post by Sarma in Assamese had said: “A salaried person dying in harness is not a martyr. If that is the case then an electrician dying of electrocution is also a martyr. Don’t make the people emotional, media.”
The police said that Sarma, who is in her 40s, was picked up in the afternoon and arrested around 7pm. She has been booked under penal code sections dealing with sedition, using obscene words, defamation and intimidation, and Section 45 of the Information Technology Act, an officer said.
Sarma, known for speaking her mind during TV debates, could not be contacted.
“Proper discussions and deliberations have to be conducted to actually determine what I meant by that statement,” she had told the web portal InsideNE before she was picked up.
“To figure it out, one must first ask, what is the true meaning of the word ‘martyr’?”
The two-page FIR says her “distasteful remarks not only reduce the unparalleled sacrifice of our jawans to a mere ‘moneymaking discourse’, but is also a verbal assault on the spirit and sanctity of service to the nation”.
It says the “defamatory” comment has “encountered” public outrage on social media at a time the nation is in “mourning over (the) martyrdom of 22 jawans”.
The dead jawans include two from Assam, the FIR stresses, while seeking “stern” action against Sarma.