Message from Mumbai: On hate crimes and legal action

Online mobs spreading hate should not be allowed to continue their work with impunity

It is indeed baffling that the Delhi police, that is expected to play a critical role in securing the lives of all important functionaries of the country, threw their hands up when faced with the challenge of identifying some random imposters on social media. Such a level of incompetence or connivance is ominous. The Delhi police say they have written to GitHub, the U.S.-based platform that hosted the toxic apps. They are also seeking the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty procedure to find information about the app from the U.S., after its Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit took over the case. All this is being revealed after a second FIR was filed this week. Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi had written to the Union IT Minister, in July and September, about several social media platforms or events that were being used to berate Muslim women. In November, the Minister replied that the Ministry was working on “identifying the gaps in current legislation to address contemporary issues of cyberspace including provisions to protect citizens, especially women, from any online harassment and cyber bullying”. While that is necessary, it cannot be an excuse to let online mobs roam free. The police must identify and arrest the original culprit, but if that process takes months on end, there have to be interim measures to enforce the rule of law. The Mumbai Police have done exactly that, in acting with the alacrity that this case deserves.

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