A member of Tamil Nadu party MDMK was on Sunday arrested for allegedly posting a morphed image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook. The police said the accused caricatured PM Modi and depicted him with a begging bowl.
Sathiyaraj alias Balu, an MDMK worker in Sirkazhi town, was arrested on Sunday on the complaint of a local BJP leader, J Swaminathan. He has been charged with intent to disrupt peace and to create ill-will between classes, news agency AFP reported.
Sathiyaraj has been sent to judicial custody after being produced in court today, the police said.
The MDMK worker had allegedly posted the picture on January 26 when members of his party were protesting against PM Modi's visit to Madurai. The party accuses the PM of betraying the interests of Tamil Nadu.
The arrest comes barely a month after a Manipur journalist was sentenced to a year's detention under the National Security Act. Kishorechandra Wangkhem, 39, was initially detained on November 27 to "prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and maintenance of public order". The reason for his detention was a Facebook video that showed him criticising Chief Minister N Biren Singh as well as PM Modi.
Critics called the arrests alarming in the world's largest democracy.
"There has been a worrying crackdown on free speech and dissent in India, whether slogans, social media commentary against ruling leaders, or arrests of journalists and activists who criticise the government," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.
With inputs from PTI, AFP
Election Results for Lok Sabha Election 2019 will be out on May 23. Get the latest election news and live updates on ndtv.com/elections. Catch all the action on NDTV Live. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for news updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the election 2019