Posted On Monday, December 03, 2012 at 08:11:07 AM
Palghar girl Shaheen Dhada, 21, who was arrested along with her friend Rinu Shrinivasan for questioning the Mumbai shutdown for the funeral of Bal Thackeray on Facebook, has shifted temporarily to Gujarat with family for some “peace of mind”.
Mirror visited the Dhadas in their hometown on Friday, the day the Supreme Court sent a notice to the Maharashtra government seeking an explanation for Shaheen and Rinu’s arrest. The paper however cannot disclose their whereabouts, considering their safety and security.
As the news of Shaheen and Rinu’s arrest trickled in on November 19, relatives from India and abroad began calling up her maternal grandmother who resides in Gujarat. It was she who persuaded the family to come and stay with her so that Shaheen could be away from the media glare and escape “further harassment”. The family left Palghar last week and have been here ever since.
Shaheen, a management graduate, has also accepted the invitation sent by IIMA professor Anil Gupta to visit the campus and interact with his students. “I am eager to meet IIMites and interact with them. I shall visit the institute as and when time and situation permit,” she said.
While Shaheen’s comment on FB sparked a public outrage with Shiv Sainiks, who even vandalised her uncle’s clinic, her family has been highly supportive and is proud that she spoke her mind.
In fact, they are thrilled that the issue has renewed the demand for a review of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act – one of the laws under which Shaheen and Rinu were booked. Shaheen’s father Farooq Dhada, a textile trader, said, “For the past 20-25 years, our family has been settled in Mumbai.
But we belong to Gujarat. It is here that I and my wife were born and brought up. The people of this state have always been warm and receptive. Religion never came in the way of socialising with Gujaratis. We feel safe here.”
He added, “Shaheen was scared of talking to people even on the cellphone after what happened. When my mother-in-law insisted we come and stay with her for a few days, we agreed because we wanted Shaheen to forget the reprehensible treatment meted out to her.
We saw our daughter smile again after we shifted to her mother’s ancestral home.” Shaheen, too, is happy to be spending time with her grandmother. Strikingly pretty, shy and soft-spoken, she said: “I started using Facebook four years ago. I like to post my opinions on a range of topics. But I never thought I would face extreme reactions for a harmless post.”
Her status update did not even mention Thackeray by name, but within 20 minutes, she started receiving calls from friends saying she should take it down and apologise.
Worse, Shaheen and Rinu were confronted by an angry mob and slapped by two women when they reached the police station. In a huge relief to them the Maharashtra police decided to drop the charges against them and file a closure report in the court. “I am educated and belong to the 21st century.
My Constitution gives me the right tofreedom of speech. Also, in my family, nobody has stopped me from speaking the truth, however harsh it may be. We respect differences in opinion and have always had healthy discussions on everything under the sun at home. I can’t relate to this outrage,” Shaheen said.