Mumbai: Under attack by NCP chief Sharad Pawar over summonses to young netizens over their posts on social media, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said action was taken only against those who sought to create social unrest.
Maintaining that his government was not against criticism, Fadnavis said, “I have seen Sharad Pawar’s statement and have sent him all the details. People keep writing against us. We are not averse to criticism.”
Fadnavis said summonses were issued to 11 youngsters, who had used derogatory language against Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji and B R Ambedkar in their social media posts.
“These people tried to create social unrest by making fake accounts. Summonses were also issued to those who liked or forwarded the derogatory posts. There is no reason to let them go scot-free,” the chief minister told reporters.
Pawar had recently interacted with the youngsters who were issued summonses by the cyber cell of the police and offered them free legal aid.
The NCP chief alleged that the BJP-led government was intolerant of criticism and claimed that the right to freedom of expression was being curtailed.
Fadnavis also defended the suspension of a police constable in Ahmednagar district for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a WhatsApp post, saying the government service rules did not allow them do that.
“The decision (to suspend the constable) was not taken suddenly. Over a period of two months he had posted not only against the prime minister but also other leaders. The government will not tolerate any posts against it by its employees or else there will be anarchy,” he said.
The policeman, Ramesh Shinde, was posted as a bodyguard of Congress MLA and former minister Balasaheb Thorat.
Fadnavis described the recent controversy over the empanelment of advertising agencies to publicise the government’s work and policies as a “misinformation campaign”.
Despite the fact that the annual budget of the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations, which empanelled the agencies, is just Rs 50 crore, some in the opposition claimed that the exercise would cost Rs 300 crore, he said.
Every government has been empanelling agencies for the last 20 yars after inviting tenders. Today, social media is a mainstream media in itself. First there were only newspapers, then came in TV channels and now is the time of social media, he said.
Our job is to communicate with the masses using all the available media, the chief minister said. The opposition, particularly the Congress and NCP, had assailed the government over its decision.