What a classic example of the misuse of state machinery (“‘Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not respect’,” Nov. 20)! One young woman arrested for posting an opinion on the Mumbai bandh that followed Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s death, and another for ‘liking’ it on Facebook. Can a common man not even express his opinion in Maharashtra?

It was indeed atrocious of the Maharashtra police to book the two women under Section 295A of the IPC for hurting religious sentiments, which they withdrew later. What would the police have done had the young woman been Sujata and not Shaheen Dhada? We have seen similar incidents in West Bengal as well. The world’s largest democracy is giving umpteen examples of how to make a mockery of the Constitution.

Vijay Nair,


What Shaheen said is true. Can any political leader with a clear conscience say that the bandh was observed only out of respect for Bal Thackeray? Where has the freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution gone? Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan should be proud of themselves. They need not cover their faces (Nov. 20).

A. Seethapathy,


Whether or not Shaheen was right ethically, under no circumstance can a protest against a bandh hurt religious sentiments or create ill-will.

We have every right to disagree with her. But by arresting her, the Maharashtra government has only reinforced her point.

Siddharth Pandit,


My blood boils when I see innocent people being arrested just because they speak their minds. The fact that our country still calls itself a democracy is unbelievable. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right. The reason given to justify the arrest of the two women — hurting religious sentiments — is pathetic.

Mridula Shobinath,


Anyone’s death is a sad happening; so is Bal Thackeray’s. But how can an opinion on the bandh that followed be against the law? Shaheen’s comment that “Mumbai shuts down due to fear, not respect” is a fact. Why are we reluctant to face facts? Most Mumbaikars, I am sure, share the opinion. We need people like Markandey Katju who blasted the Maharashtra Chief Minister following the arrest of Shaheen and Renu.

Md. Mujeeb ur Rahman K,


The right to freedom of speech and expression is increasingly losing its meaning in the world’s largest democracy. First came the arrest of a cartoonist, and now comes the arrest of two young women for posting and liking a message on a social networking site. Are we not going back to the bad old days when citizens were scared to even open their mouths?

A.T.R. Krishna Priya,


No doubt, the arrest of Shaheen and Renu is a blow to the freedom of speech and expression. That said, Facebook seems to have become everyone’s blackboard to write whatever he or she feels. Social networking sites are double-edged knives. The trend is on impressing friends on social networking sites and increasing ‘likes.’ Account users lack security awareness and publicise all their personal information. Elixir is elixir only within limits.

Dharani Padala,


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