A case against 16-year-old boy from Assam was been lodged by BJP functionaries twice last week, each time by a different district police force across the state. The teenager, a resident of Assam’s Golaghat district, had uploaded a video on YouTube that made fun of several BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and another key minister from the state, Himanta Biswa Sarma.
In the video – the tone and language of which borders on unparliamentary and personal at places – the teenager criticises the BJP for its push to amend India’s Citizenship Act.
The video has been taken down since the proposed amendment, which would facilitate citizenship for illegal migrants from particular minority communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, has caused great public uproar in Assam. The boy being a regular YouTuber, has also deactivated his account.
On may 23rd, teenager was first apprehended by the Golaghat police. According to the investigating officer, Manik Goswami, the boy was booked under Section 500 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code in addition to Section 67 of the Information Technology Act. While Section 500 and 505 pertain to defamation and public mischief, the latter deals with “publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form”.
Dhrubajyoti Bora the Golaghat police’s additional superintendent maintained that the youth was not technically arrested but only apprehended since he was a minor. Bora said that, “We have forwared him to the Justice Juvenile Board where was put in the observation home for a while and let go.”
According to India’s Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act anyone under 18 detained for a criminal offence is produced before the Justice Juvenile Board, where they are registered in an observation home.
The neighbouring Majuli district also briefly detained the youth on Saturday under the same charges, said the district’s police chief Hitesh C Roy. “He has been released as the charges were bailable,” he said. “We have told spoken to the boy’s father and told him that he needed counselling.”
Rupam Goswami, BJP’s spokesperson in the state the complainants had acted in their personal capacity and the decision to file multiple complaints in different location, he insisted, was not a decision taken by the party. He said, “The law will take its own course.”
The Congress’ Debabrata Saikia said that though the language employed could be considered offensive by some, there was nothing wrong about the contents of the video. “We wish the police showed the same promptness when there are similar complaints against people who share much more incendiary posts that could threaten communal harmony.” Adding to it he also said that, ” I have personally made many complaints against such posts, but no action has even been taken.”
The 16 yr old boy says to journalist that he has regret for doin it. This incident not being the first time, in May 2017, a Communist Part of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation member was arrested for a strongly worded indictment of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Facebook.