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Two women in India arrested for Facebook status, like

November 20, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Shaheen Dhada, left, and Renu Srinivas leave a court in Mumbai on Tuesday after being arrested over sentiments they posted on Facebook.
Shaheen Dhada, left, and Renu Srinivas leave a court in Mumbai on Tuesday… (Associated Press )

Two women in India have been arrested for criticizing the government's handling of a funeral for a deceased politician on Facebook.

The arrests followed the death Saturday of Bal Thackeray, a Hindu fundamentalist with reported links to mob violence. His death led the Indian city of Mumbai to shut down for his funeral.

That prompted Shaheen Dhada to post a Facebook status critical of the city's handling of Thackeray's funeral, accusing the city of shutting down "due to fear, not due to respect." Renu Srinivas, a friend of Dhada's then "liked" the status and both found themselves under arrest Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The Indian media have rallied around the women, criticizing the government for the arrests.

Notable individuals have also criticized the arrests, including Markandey Katju, a former judge on India's Supreme Court, as well as Kapil Sibal, the country's minister of communications and information technology

"Freedom of speech is a very important right, and we need to protect it," Sibal said, according to the AP.

Sibal said the government would reexamine its laws to ensure they don't curb people's freedom to express their opinions.

"We want to make sure that this law is not meant to prevent people from stating their point of view on any issue," he said.

As for the two Indian women, the pair were released on bail Monday, and not surprisingly, both have deactivated their Facebook accounts, according to the AP.

Dhada has even said she will never make comments on a social networking site again.

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