A woman who complained about the Indian city of Mumbai shutting down for the funeral of divisive Hindu nationalist politician Balasaheb Thackeray was arrested for "hurting religious sentiments," local police told reporters amid public anger over the case.
Indian media identified the woman as Shaheen Dhada, 21, who reportedly wrote, "People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh [shutdown] for that.”
Police also arrested a friend of hers who "liked" the comment.
The Facebook remark spurred angry backers of Thackeray, a controversial figure who once openly called for attacks on Muslims, to assault a clinic owned by Dhada' uncle. Analysts told the Associated Press that the arrests appeared to be a move by police to head off any further violence from Thackeray supporters.
Free-speech groups were outraged by the ransacking and arrests. In a blistering letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra state, a former Supreme Court justice who now heads the Press Council of India called the charges absurd and unlawful and demanded that the police officers involved be prosecuted.