The 19-year-old student of a Bareilly school is in jail after being booked under the controversial Section 66A of the IT Act by the Rampur police, on a complaint filed by Azam Khan’s aide Fasahat Ali Khan, who alleged that the post maligned the minister, was “controversial and inflammatory” and “in the name of Mr Khan which is a lie.”
The police arrested the student on Monday, barely a day after the complaint was registered and produced him yesterday in court, which sent him to the district jail. He spent last night in jail and will remain in prison at least till his bail plea is heard tomorrow.
While the police action was slammed by political parties and on social media, Azam Khan said, “Law is enforced strictly… And you’ve all seen how he was arrested in 24 hours. I know exactly what goes on in Facebook. Things like this have happened in the past as well,” and warned, “If a young man uses such language, he will face such backlash.”
“Why does Azam bhai get so angry,” asked the Congress’ Rajiv Shukla. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati strongly condemned the teen’s arrest.
The police said that during questioning, the student “told us that he did not understand the real meaning of what he was posting.”
The arrest has sparked fresh protest against the use of Section 66A which deals with offensive messages sent through a computer. Conviction can mean a three-year jail sentence and a fine.
It has been challenged in the Supreme Court as an attack on the Fundamental Right to freedom of speech and expression.
Two teenagers in Mumbai’s Palghar had been arrested in November 2012 for posting comments on Facebook lamenting the shutdown in Mumbai following the death of Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray. Devu Chodankar, a shipbuilding professional from Mumbai, was booked under the same section in May last year after he allegedly posted remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a Facebook group in March.