Tamil Nadu BJP state executive committee member Sowdha Mani was arrested for her tweet by the Cyber Crime Wing of Central Crime Branch police on Saturday, 9 July, at her residence in Choolaimedu, Chennai. She had shared an old video on social media earlier this year, which allegedly incited communal hatred.
According to reports, earlier this year, the former news anchor, a BJP woman functionary, had shared a post by an unknown person. She retweeted another person’s video, which alleged that only Hindu temples were being removed in the state citing high court orders over the removal of encroachments, while other religious institutions were not demolished. While retweeting this video, she said, "Thairiyama? Vidiyalukkaa?" (In Tamil, it means – "Courage? For sunrise?" – which refers to the ruling DMK party, as it used "Vidiyal" for its Assembly election campaign).
Her social media post sparked outrage and many Twitter users and politicians demanded action against her. The police registered a case against her under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after the department received complaints. Subsequently, she approached the Madras High Court for anticipatory bail but her petition was dismissed.
In February, during her anticipatory bail hearing session, the Madras High Court observed that the content of her tweet was against the government and also the judiciary. Denying her anticipatory bail plea, Justice R Pongiappan wrote that the petitioner had criticised the judgment rendered by an appropriate forum and if these types of messages were forwarded, people would definitely lose faith in the judiciary.
She was booked under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riots), 153(1)(b) (circulating rumours to cause alarm among people or to disturb public tranquility), and 505(2) (circulating statements promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) of the IPC.
She was arrested on Saturday, July 9, at her Choolaimedu residence by the Cyber Crime Wing of Central Crime Branch police, and a first-level investigation is underway at the Chennai Police Commissioner’s office. When TNM contacted the cyber crime police, they said an investigation was ongoing and no information could be revealed until it was over.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)