Vidisha police detained a class XI student, Vishal Dangi, for circulating a WhatsApp message and posting it on Facebook, last night. The message urged farmers to “teach a lesson to the BJP government and those responsible for killing of farmers in Mandsaur”.
As the message went viral, police raided the house of the student and arrested him from a nearby field where he was working. The 19-year-old student is the son of a farmer, and lives in Khiriyakehda village near Ganjbasoda in Vidisha district, 110 km from Bhopal. He belongs to the backward Dangi community.
Vishal is studying in a private school and is very popular on social media among his peers. Later, in a video message, Vishal said “a huge posse of police force in two vans came to my house, they were accompanied by four-five motorcycles with policemen. When they did not find me, they came to my field and took me to Vidisha district headquarters.”
Police detained Vishal for interrogation, and it was only after he accepted that he had inadvertently forwarded a WhatsApp message he had received on June 6 that he was released.
“I was not beaten by police. I merely forwarded a post on 9th June which I got on 6th June,” he said.
The social media post mentions the poor state of farmers in the state. It urges young people and farmers to rise against the government and forge unity.
This kind of social media post is not new in the state, which has witnessed a sudden upsurge of protests by farmers against the government. The huge arson and violence in Mandsaur and western Madhya Pradesh last week gave way to the spread of such information and rumours.
The government has suspended the use of internet in many districts after it was found that rumours spread fast and farmers were gathering at various points to create ruckus.
Meanwhile, former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath said that there is “undeclared Emergency-like situation in Madhya Pradesh, especially in the area where the chief minister comes from”. “It is unfortunate that a student, who committed an innocent mistake, was arrested in a manner which was more befitting to a hardened criminal,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that the state police is behaving with students as if they are terrorists. Now, speaking truth has become a crime in Madhya Pradesh,” said Ajay Singh, leader of opposition. He asked why a student was kept in police detention for a mere case of freedom of expression.
Vidisha police has clarified that a case has not been registered against Vishal Dangi, and he was released after initial interrogation.