Think twice before sending jokes and memes on WhatsApp. Raisuddin of Dadri village learnt it the hard way. He had sent an 'objectionable' image of Patanjali magnate Baba Ramdev to a WhatsApp group. The Noida police promptly arrested him from his house and registered a case under the IT act against him.
According to Times of India, in the morphed photo, Baba Ramdev was seen surrounded by a group of men and lifting his leg, which appeared objectionable. The 40-year-old Raisuddin was arrested for posting the picture of Ramdev to a group called Jai Hind, to which some members from the group objected.
Business Standard reported that Patanjali MD Acharya Balkrishna tweeted his thanks to the Noida police, while SK Tijarawala, spokesperson for Patanjali Products, said: "Vulgar attempt to defame someone is as heinous as rape and an attack on modesty alike."
According to an India Today report, Raisuddin claims he was not the creator of the image, and simply forwarded a message he received from a friend, but this might not make a difference. In July 2017, a man named Tadikala Akabar Saleem, 36, was arrested at the Chennai airport for receiving an 'anti-national' message on WhatsApp. The alleged anti-national message? "We must assemble at Jantar Mantar to register our protest against people who disrespect the Quran."
WhatsApp messages can't be intercepted by the government, but WhatsApp Groups - especially ones with large numbers of members whom you don't know well - have become a risky place to share materials without thinking through the consequences.
It doesn't matter whether you're sending the picture, receiving it, or even just happen to be a part of a group where such an image is shared. In May last year, a WhatsApp group admin was arrested for the group sharing an 'obscene and ugly' photo of PM Modi - the image wasn't even shared by Krishna Sanna Thamma Naik, the admin of the WhatsApp group, but as the administrator of the group, he was nonetheless arrested.
It is because of excessive policing like this that people have fears about plans such as a social media hub that can snoop on everything you're saying, from Facebook to Twitter to blogs and even email. These WhatsApp arrests at least required someone to report you to the authorities, but with a high-tech dashboard to monitor people's posts, the whole process could be automated, leading to even more arrests.