The Bagalkot district police have arrested Kuthma Sheikh, 25, a resident of Mudhol following a complaint by an individual that she was wishing people on Pakistan’s Republic Day. The woman is a senior student at a madrassa in Mudhol.
She posted a WhatsApp status on March 23, Pakistan’s Republic Day, in Urdu and it read: “May God bless every nation with peace, unity and harmony”.
This was seen by Arun Kumar Bhajantri, a Mudhol-based activist, who registered a complaint against her, saying she was trying to create enmity between communities and that she should be booked for treason, as she had posted the message on Pakistan Republic Day. The complaint was filed on March 24.
The police, however, booked her under Sections 153-A (creating enmity between groups on the basis of religion, race, etc) and 505-2 of IPC (statements promoting enmity between groups).
The accused was arrested and remanded in judicial custody on March 24. The arrest was made to preserve peace and maintain law and order, the police said.
“Her post could be interpreted as if it was meant to commemorate the Pakistan’s Republic Day. It could lead to unrest and protests and counter-protests, if we had not acted on time,” a senior police officer said.
However, some activists have opposed the move. Bheemanagouda Paragonda, Athani-based lawyer and RTI activist, said the police had to use their wisdom and judgment before arresting persons. The allegations made in the complaint would not stand legal scrutiny. Innocent people would be harassed by the knee-jerk reactions of the police, he said.