A freethinker blogger from Bengal, Tarak Biswas, was arrested on Thursday for posting updates on social media for criticizing Islam religion. On Thursday, minutes after Biswas posted a message on social media, one Sanaullah Khan registered a complaint with the Cyber Police Station of the Howrah Police Commissionerate demanding his arrest. According to the locals, Khan is a local leader from the ruling- Trinamool Congress party.
Locals allege that the police picked up Biswas from his residence in the wee hours of Thursday night. According to the police, Tarak was arrested on 295 A, 298 of the Indian Penal Code (hurting religious sentiments and hate speech). Besides 66, 67, and 67A of the IT Act (posting, sending offensive messages through communication services). Later, he was produced before the local court, where he was remanded to seven days of police custody. “Sanaullah Khan had registered a FIR against Biswas for hurting religious sentiments. Based on the complaint filed, we arrested him. Presently he is in police custody,” said a senior police officer of the Howrah Police Commissionerate Fanz Live.
Meanwhile, rights group APDR has demanded his immediate release and withdrawal of all cases against him. “We do not support the comments posted by him on social media. But, at the same time, a person has every right to express himself. The sections imposed on him are nothing but blasphemous. We demand his immediate release and withdrawal of all sections slapped on him,” said vice president of the rights group, APDR, Ranjit Sur.
While the state government representatives refused to comment on this issue, rights activists took a dig at the government for allegedly putting him behind bars for the hate speech on social media. “The state government’s tendency has always remained to put freethinkers behind bars. A few years back, a professor was jailed for circulating a cartoon of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. We can’t expect the state government to allow its people the privileges of free speech,” added Sur.
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On the other hand, protests are fast gathering in cyberspace to show solidarity with the victim after being arrested on Thursday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments on social media. “Freedom of speech is of utmost importance… Someone can’t be arrested for criticizing a religion… Be it whichever religion… We demand Tarak Biswas’s release immediately,” said one Shreyasi Roy on social media.
Another user on social media, Supriyo Lahiri, wrote, “Utter shame and outrage in Didier Shonar Bangla. An independent blogger Tarak Das was crusading against all kinds of blind faith, religious malpractice of all religions for some time. Now, the police have arrested him! Within a short time, the administration will bring the situation where atheists and independent thinkers will be butchered at will by fundamentalists like they have been doing in Bangladesh.”