The member had posted a derogatory photograph with a communal message

Days after Maharashtra police issued an order making administrators of WhatsApp groups responsible if any panic and false information is circulated through their groups, Palghar police on Monday registered a case against one such WhatsApp group admin. The person who had posted a derogatory photograph and a message with the intention to create hatred between two communities has also been booked.

On Saturday, police received a complaint on Twitter which contained screenshots of a WhatsApp group. “The screenshot contained a photograph and a post which was hateful in nature and was posted with an intention to create tension between two communities. We worked on the information and identified the administrator of the WhatsApp group. He belonged to Saravli area of Palghar. We have seized the mobile of the person who had posted the objectionable content on the group and have registered a case against administrator and the one who posted the content under sections of Indian Penal Code,” said an officer from Bhoisar police station in Palghar.

Since the lockdown started, 183 cases have been registered over fake news, rumours and hate speech over social media in Maharashtra. Out of that 176 are FIRs and 7 are Non-Cognizable (NC), police said.

“In total, 37 accused are arrested and 114 are identified. There has been a rising trend of hate speech cases in the past few days. Take down notices have been issued to all concerned platforms of social media. So far 32 posts have been removed. In the last 24 hours, six cases have been registered in Maharashtra,” said Dr Balsing Rajput, superintendent of police, Maharashtra Cyber.

The police had issued a prohibitory order on April 10 which stated that all persons designated as “Admin” on messaging and social media platforms, either by self or by allowing any member of the group, shall be personally responsible for any false or inflammatory information being disseminated from a group administered by them. The messages could be derogatory and discriminatory towards a particular community; or cause panic; or incite mistrust towards government functionaries and their actions taken in order to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus