Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar Monday suggested banning social media only to retract his statement minutes later. He was speaking in the context of rising instances of violence in the state due to offensive posts against iconic personalities made on the social media.
“The recent incidents have taken a toll on the society. China had adopted a two-year ban on social media. The government and the Opposition must press for a similar clamp down when we meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Pawar said while replying to a discussion on the budget in the state legislative Assembly. He informed the house about plans to call upon Modi in the next few days.
A few minutes later, Pawar did a U-turn, and clarified, “I did not mean a ban on social media forums such as WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook. I am not against freedom of the social media but there must be some kind of regulation on it.” His public relations officer, seated in the media gallery when the initial statement was made, had sent him a note urging him to clarify his stand.
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The state has been plagued by increasing instances of violence particularly in Western Maharashtra in reaction to offensive posts denigrating iconic personalities from the state. A young Muslim youth was beaten to death by alleged members of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, a right wing radical organisation in Pune last week.
Home Minister R R Patil on Monday said that apart from those who have been uploading offensive posts all those who approve and ‘like’ such posts will also be liable for prosecution. “People who have created these posts are liable for prosecution but I have also stated this to the police that the harshest action should be taken against all those who have liked such posts,” Home Minister R R Patil said in Mumbai on Monday.
Patil further stated that he had asked police officials to ensure that the main culprits in the creation of the posts were caught. “We already have a wing that looks into such incidents which originate from the Internet. They know how to do their job but I have also told them that they should use the help of outside experts if the need arises to find the main culprits who have put out such posts,” Patil said.
There has been rising demand that in the backdrop of the incident the Hindu Rashtra Sena should be banned.
“We are contemplating and looking at all legal provisions on the possibility of banning the Hindu Rashtra Sena,” Patil said.