New Delhi: The all too familiar political blame game has begun over the arrest of two girls in Mumbai over a Facebook status update which questioned the shutdown in the city over the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. While the Shiv Sena has blamed the state government for the police action, Union minister Salman Khurshid said the government had no role to play in the episode. "The Government of India is not directly involved but I agree with Mr Kapil Sibal who pointed out that every action taken by the police need not be right," Khurshid said.
"Why do you want to blame the Sena for action of the state government and its officials?" a Shiv Sena member had asked. The two girls from Palghar were arrested after one of them posted a new status on her Facebook account denouncing the Mumbai shutdown and the other 'liked' it. The media and the public slammed the police action as unconstitutional and undemocratic with Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju writing off a letter to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in which he flayed the administration for the action taken against the young girls. He urged the government to order the release of the girls immediately failing which he said, he would initiate legal proceedings against the police officers who ordered the arrests.
After much media and public outcry, the girls were let off, albeit on a bail of Rs 15,000 each. What is even more shocking is that the girls had been arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiments.
The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, justified the arrests and even refused to apologise for the attack on one of the relatives of the girl who had posted the status on Facebook. The Palghar resident's hospital was vandalised by a mob who were suspected to be Shiv Sena members. While the police on Tuesday arrested nine people in connection with the attack, the party remained unapologetic. Shiv Sena leaders like Prabhakar Raul and Sanjay Raut said that Bal Thackeray was their god and that no comment against him would be tolerated.
Meanwhile, fearing for their safety, the girls on Tuesday apologised for the status and the girl who had posted it deactivated her account saying that she feared for her family's safety.