An indiscreet comment on a social networking site can land you in jail, especially if you have taken on a politician. Jaya Vindyala, president of the Andhra Pradesh unit of People's Union for Civil Liberties or PUCL was arrested on Sunday afternoon for alleged defamatory comments on a social networking site against Congress MLA from Chirala in Prakasam district, A Krishnamohan. The MLA had complained to the police on April 18.
The PUCL president was picked up from her home in Padmarao Nagar in Secunderabad by the Prakasam district police on Sunday morning. "I am telling the people of Chirala that you must vote him out in the next election, otherwise he will ruin your lives. They are imagining that they have achieved something simply by arresting me," said Ms Vindyala.
Cases under 66 A of the IT Act and also alleging criminal conspiracy were booked against the activist and she was remanded to judicial custody for 12 days. On Monday, Ms Vindyala applied and was granted bail but is likely to be out of jail only on Tuesday after furnishing sureties.
Bheema Naik, investigating officer in Chirala says about four weeks ago Ms Vindyala had made defamatory remarks saying the MLA was involved in child trafficking, ganja mafia, sand mafia and land mafia. "He said he felt he lost his respect in society," said Mr Naik.
Ms Vindyala had also said that Krishna Mohan had misused his association with former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and now Tamil Nadu governor K Rosaiah.
Even those who do not support Ms Vindyala's comments are asking whether the Prakasam district police would have acted with so much promptness and alacrity and come all the way to Secunderabad to arrest her on a Sunday afternoon if the complainant were not a powerful politician.
Leader of Opposition Chandrababu Naidu says the arrest is a reflection of the misuse of power by the ruling Congress leaders.
"So much corruption, so much high-handedness, so much rowdy-ism and goondaism, all these things are going on but they have arrested someone who is fighting for civil liberties. They have arrested, I totally condemn that attitude," said Mr Naidu.
The case highlights the grey area of section 66A.
From the misogynist abuse in Kerala when 120 people were questioned for harassing a Congress leader who defended PJ Kurien, to the repressive crackdown by cops on the Palghar girls for merely questioning Mumbai's shutdown after Bal Thackeray's death, to the Puducherry businessman who was held for an offensive tweet against Finance Minister P Chidambaram's son, when it comes to the controversial IT act, why do the cops always jump the gun?