FIR against Teesta Setalvad for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus

Mangalore, Aug 27: An FIR has been filed against noted social activist Teesta Setalvad in Bunder police station here on charges of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus by posting images of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants, an Islamic extremists’ outfit, morphed with Hindu gods through her Twitter page.

The complaint, filed by Yuva Brigade convener Naresh Shenoy, stated that by posting morphed images in Twitter on August 22, Teesta had hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community.

Based on the complaint, sections 505, 153A, 153, 201, 295, 295A, 298 under Information Technology Act 2008 have been invoked against her in the FIR.

The complaint stated that Teesta posted a morphed photo titled ‘Chilling Reality’ linking Hindu gods with ISIS militants, specifically UK-born ISIS militant, who allegedly beheaded US journalist James Foley. The complaint further stated that the photo would derail the secular fabric of the country as it hurt the sentiments of one particular community.

Besides, the complaint added that Teesta had intentionally placed the halo, usually associated with Hindu gods, behind the ISIS militant’s head. The photo on the left shows shows a militant in the form of goddess Kali holding a severed head. Another image, in the same picture shows an Islamic extremist holding the Sudarshana Chakra (associated with lord Vishnu).

Soon after the photo went viral and evoked angry outbursts in the social media, Teesta removed the photo and apologized for uploading it. In her blog, she explained that she said the photo was sent to her by a friend, and she had uploaded it ‘in a mad rush’.

“A friend contacted me saying he could prepare some visuals depicting the atrocities of the ISIS which I might consider Tweeting. I agreed. I am traveling and was in a mad rush this morning (August 22) preparing for a Memorial Lecture I was invited to deliver this afternoon in Kolkata. On receiving the friend’s message, I took a quick glance at the illustration depicting the ISIS’ gruesome beheading of the American journalist. Looking at the visual as a whole, I did think the illustration needed reworking as it may be interpreted differently by different people. However, in the mad rush that I was in, I Tweeted the same with my caption, ‘Chilling’.

“The moment I realised that the illustration had created a controversy and had hurt many people, I deleted the Tweet and Tweeted an immediate apology for having inadvertently hurt their feelings. While reiterating my commitment to work for communal harmony, conflict resolution and peace building, I once again offer my sincere apologies for inadvertently hurting religious sentiments,” Teesta stated in her blog.

Nevertheless, Narendra Shenoy said that he was determined to ensure that action is taken against Teesta. “The picture has hurt the sentiments of Hindus,” he said, adding that he would send a copy of the complaint to the Bangalore cyber crime branch to ensure action.

When asked why he filed a complaint in Mangalore when neither Teesta nor the incident had any connection to the city, he said, “This is our way of expressing anger against the accused in the case.”