A youth was arrested for sharing on WhatsApp a morphed photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Shaqib is now lodged in jail in Hisar, Haryana and is serving a 14-day judicial remand there. Shaqib was arrested on November 18 after Mukesh Kumar, reportedly a BJP worker in Tohana, in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, complained about the photograph to authorities. A police team from Tohana had then travelled to Shahpur-Kalyanpur village in Uttarakhand and arrested Shaqib. Shaqib, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district, works as a tailor there.
“Chhe din tak ek roti bhi nahi khaaee thi usne touchphone khareedne ki zid mein (He had gone without food for six days, insisting that we buy him a touchscreen phone),” says Shaqib’s mother Jule Khan, 45. For the residents of Khera Mewat, a village with a population of about 8,000, a smartphone is a rarity. “Most of the villagers are uneducated and work as daily wagers, hardly earning Rs 100-200 a day. How can we afford smartphones,” says Mehboob Hasan, 44, a neighbour who has dropped by to console the family. He points to Jule’s phone, an Intex set that the family bought for about Rs 1,000.
“Hamne loan lekar uske liye phone khareeda. Wo bachha hai. usko kya pata phone par kya nahi karna hai (I bought him the phone on loan. He is a child… how would he know what he shouldn’t be doing on his phone,” says Salim, speaking on the phone from Hisar, where he had gone to meet his son.
Recently, in another instance, the allegedly abusive comments on PM Narendra Modi had landed a man in police custody which were part of a private conversation on Facebook, police said. Virudhunagar SP M Rajarajan said S Thirumurugan, a 19-year-old engineering diploma holder, was picked up from Srivilliputhur town based on a complaint from K Marimuthu, BJP district secretary, for his allegedly abusive remarks on Modi. The remarks were made in a private conversation between Thirumurugan and Marimuthu, he said.
“Both were Facebook friends. When Marimuthu sent Thirumurugan a meme on Facebook Messenger criticising Vijay’s controversial dialogues in the movie Mersal, Thirumurugan used filthy language in his reply referring to the PM. The conversation in English was photographed by Marimuthu and filed as a complaint.” Dialogues in Mersal criticising the Modi government’s policies had triggered a row.