A Class XI student from Bareilly was arrested by Rampur police for sharing an “objectionable” post on Facebook against senior Samajwadi party leader and state Urban Development Minister Azam Khan. A team of crime branch sleuths picked him up from his house Monday and he had been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. The youth’s bail plea will be taken up for hearing at a local court Thursday.
The FIR in this connection was lodged at the Ganj police station at Rampur by Fashat Ali, Azam Khan’s media in-charge. A student of Class XI at a government school in Bareilly, the youth was sent to jail by a local court Tuesday.
Station House Officer (SHO), Ganj police station, D K Sharma said the student has been booked under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act and under IPC sections 153 A, 504 and 506.
While the police claimed the youth was aged 23 years, his family put up his age around 17-18 years. His bail application is slated to be heard at the local court on Thursday.
“The boy posted comments on Facebook which could incite communal tensions and spoil peace and harmony,” circle officer Aley Hassan said. In the post, Azam Khan was targeted on the basis of a provocative remark allegedly made by him that turned out to be “fake”, police said.
“The said post was there on his Facebook page for last few days, which he mistakenly shared through his cellphone without knowledge of its content. He was picked up by police at night on March 16, and we were told that he has posted some objectionable post on FB against the minister (Azam Khan),” the youth’s uncle told The Indian Express.
The youth’s father refused to talk to the media.
Azam Khan defended the police action. “A Class XI student has made objectionable comments against me on FB. Law is enforced with strictness and he has been arrested within 24 hours. Comments were made against me earlier also on FB,” Khan said in Lucknow.
Station in-charge at Ganj police station, D K Sharma, said that boy’s Facebook page has carried the objectionable post with Azam Khan’s photograph and had filthy language against a community.
Officiating SP of Rampur, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ashok Kumar said the youth has confessed to have posted the message on his Facebook page. He said the student told the police that he was born in 1992. A team has been sent to his home in Bareilly to collect his educational documents to verify the age, the ASP added.
Condemning the arrest, BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said, “They (police) should have avoided sending the student to jail as he is a minor. The CM and government work under pressure of Azam Khan,” he alleged.
BJP state chief Laxmikant Bajpai said that the matter could have been resolved by talking to the student.
However, this isn’t the first time that someone has gone to jail in UP over an online post deemed objectionable. In August 2013, Dalit scholar Kanwal Bharti was arrested for a Facebook post against the Samajwadi Party over IAS officer Durga Nagpal’s suspension.