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Basirhat violence over Facebook post: Charges framed against two minors

When the post went viral, a furious mob had set fire to the home of the first accused, triggering tension in Baduria, which eventually spread across the Basirhat sub-division.

Written by Sweety Kumari | Kolkata |
August 31, 2017 8:18:43 am
west bengal violence, basirhat violence, facebook violence, hindu muslim violence, religion violence, communal violence bengal, indian express news, india news, indian express opinion According to the police, a Class XI student, who was first charged in the case, wanted to open a Facebook account, which his friend, the second accused, also a Class XI student, opened for him.

The North 24 Parganas police have filed their first chargesheet in connection with the Facebook post that triggered communal clashes in Baduria and Basirhat areas last month. Charges have been framed against two accused, both of whom are minors. The chargesheet was submitted on Monday in the juvenile justice court in Bidhannagar. “We have submitted a chargesheet. Charges have been framed against two people,” confirmed SP (North 24 Parganas) C Sudhakar while speaking to The Indian Express.

According to the police, a Class XI student, who was first charged in the case, wanted to open a Facebook account, which his friend, the second accused, also a Class XI student, opened for him. Both had access to the account as both knew the password. Later, the first accused opened another Facebook account, which had the same password as that of the previous one.

Police sources said that the two friends had had an argument a few months before the incident, after which “one of the boys” put up an objectionable picture (linked to the Prophet and Kaaba Sharif in Mecca) on his friend’s Facebook page to “get him into trouble”.

When the post went viral, a furious mob had set fire to the home of the first accused, triggering tension in Baduria, which eventually spread across the Basirhat sub-division. Shops and homes were vandalised, triggering retaliatory attacks. A few days later, the clashes claimed their first victim: a 65-year-old man who was stabbed multiple times while walking back home from the market in Basirhat. Three others were also injured.

“There were two profiles on Facebook belonging to the same boy. The profile with the objectionable picture was first uploaded on July 2 and later shared to the second profile. One password was used for both profiles. The two profiles were in the name of first accused, while the image was apparently uploaded by the second accused, who was his friend. The investigation so far has revealed both were involved,” said a police source.

“The account holder was arrested the same day. He claimed the post wasn’t uploaded by him. In due course of the investigation, the name of the second accused cropped up. He was arrested from Delhi on August 17. We found he was the one who created the profile and had access to it even when the violence took place,” said a Basirhat police officer.

“He (the first accused) had initially claimed that he was unable to open his first account however, Police easily accessed his Facebook profile through the same old password,” said a police official. Both accused are now in a juvenile home. So far, the police have denied any political connection to the case. Special Public Prosecutor Bivas Chatterjee has submitted in court the IP address from which the offensive material was posted, which has matched with the mobile phone of the second accused.

Both accused have been charged under section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 153 (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153 A (attacks upon religion), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, along with sections 67 (transmitting any message in the electronic form which contains explicit act or conduct) and 67 A (publishing or transmitting any objectionable message) of Information Technology Act.

“Teenagers can be very rebellious by nature and always want to try something new. This behaviour at time turns out to be really dangerous. The exact motive of the two boys behind the action is still uncertain, it is being probed,” the official further said. Police said investigations into the clashes will continue.

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