Dubai: “This is abuse not dissent.” This was the argument presented by a lawyer based in Lucknow, India, when he filed First Information Report (FIR) against a social media user for calling the Indian Prime Minister a thief.
A tweet by the Congress Party’s social media manager Divya Spandana irked Dr Syed Rizwan Ahmed, who filed an FIR against Spandana under the 124A Sedition act.
The original tweet by Spandana showed PM Modi writing on his own statue the word ‘chor’ [thief]. She added: “#ChorPMChupHai [The thief PM is quiet].”
The tweet was posted on Monday, September 24. The next day, Dr Ahmed, tweeting using the handle @DrRizwanAhmed1, shared pictures of the FIR and added that the Prime Minister’s legal team needed to be more active and that he had filed the FIR as Modi was India’s Prime Minister, not a political party’s.
@divyaspandana के विरुद्ध धारा 124आ (राष्ट्रद्रोह) 67 आई टी एक्ट में मुकदमा दर्ज।
धन्येवाद @Uppolice .@narendramodi जी आपकी लीगल टीम को और सक्रिय होना होगा।
मैंने और ट्विटर साथियो ने कारवाही की क्यो की आप देश के प्रधानमंत्री हैं न कि किसी दल के🙏
*आप सब को मुबारक! pic.twitter.com/CYqJhTLaA8— Dr Syed Rizwan Ahmed (@DrRizwanAhmed1) September 25, 2018
The action triggered social media users who claimed that asking questions of the Prime Minister was part of democracy and should not be stifled.
@inclusivemind tweeted: “So from now onwards, we will say we are citizens of Modi, not India because [say] anything against an elected servant and you will be booked for Sedition.”
A similar sentiment was shared by @Joshebacardilya who wrote: “Criticizing PM is Sedition? But the law says ‘Acting against the interests of the country is sedition’! PM is not the country! PM is another elected representative! Country is much bigger than the PM! This is misuse of sedition; exactly why sedition must go!”
Another tweep @Joydas wrote: “In banana republic, sedition case filed against @divyaspandana for tweet which calls Narendra Modi Chor”
@Ghair_Kanooni added: “Section 67 of InfoTech Act deals with transmission of obscene content. Section 124A only punishes seditious action if it directly incites violence against the State. Neither provision applies to @divyaspandana’s tweet.”
However, the person at the centre of the controversy, Spandana, did not take the FIR charges too seriously. In response to a journalist tweeting the story, she responded: “Oh, well.” When the journalist asked Spandana if this was her official statement, she responded: “Yeah :)”