|Shaheen with her father Farukh at their Palghar residence
For Shaheen Dhada, what really matters is that she is finally back on Facebook. A self-confessed addict of the social networking site, the Palghar resident had deactivated her FB account on November 18 after her uncle’s hospital was ransacked by Shiv Sena workers, incensed by her post questioning why Mumbai should be shut down because of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s demise.
Speaking from her Palghar residence, Shaheen said she reactivated her FB account on Sunday, with her first post in days, “I am back...”. “It was an ordeal to be cut off from the outside world. I was living in complete isolation since November 18, what with court appearances post my arrest with Rinu.
My father Farukh was uncomfortable walking down our street, with people’s curious stares all around. No one said anything, but the body language was loud and clear. He suffered mental torture due to the controversy,” said Shaheen, after offering evening prayers at home.
|A screenshot of Shaheen’s FB page with her first post since deactivating the account
During the three-weeks-plus of relative isolation, Shaheen read books on management, some fiction and watched TV — mostly for the news. “Every day, I was confronted with the Facebook controversy and lengthy studio discussions on most of the news channels.
During this period, I preferred to pray at home as the strange looks at the mosque were too much to handle. Only my sister and select friends would visit me, but I would request them not to discuss the controversy.
They were very understanding,” she said. But what Shaheen probably missed the most was the freedom to go out with her friends and hog at her favourite paani-puri wala’s near the Laxminarayan temple, which she calls “a rage”. Handling the jealousy when she couldn’t, and her friends did, was difficult too.
“Sometimes, they would pack bhel and paani puri for me, but eating at the stall is a wholly different experience. I’ll be visiting my favourite paani-puri wala on Monday evening to make up for all the days I couldn’t,” she added.
On her reactivated FB profile page, Shaheen has posted her uncovered photo. “I have also reactivated my mobile number on Saturday morning. There was a flood of messages from friends when I reactivated my account.
Now, I feel I have reconnected with my friends. But now there are at least two dozen fake accounts in my name. And yes, I will be riding my Honda Activa without my dupatta covering my face,” she said.
Apart from paani-puri, Shaheen said she’s also looking forward to attending a two-day meeting with Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad graduates as part of the 10th annual Satvik Food Festival in Ahmedabad. “We’re now waiting for the police to file the closure report in this case before the Palghar court,” she smiled.
The girls were arrested after the Palghar city unit of the Shiv Sena registered a complaint under Section 295 (a), later converted to 505 (a) of the IPC and Section 66(a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which led to the transfer of Palghar Judicial Magistrate (First Class) R Bogade and the suspension of the SP (Thane Rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar and Senior PI Shrikant Pingle of the Palghar PS.
DGP Sanjeev Dayal and the State government then decided to drop all charges against the girls after widespread public outcry and the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the arrests.
Meanwhile, Rinu Shrinivasan, who was arrested for ‘liking’ Shaheen’s post on November 18, is yet to respond to Shaheen’s return to Facebook as she is en route Chennai to cut a private album titled One Roof in four languages — Hindi, Malyalam,Telugu and Kannada. Rinu had reactivated her FB account in December second week.
► It was an ordeal to be cut off from the outside world. I was in complete isolation
since Nov 18. My father Farukh too was uncomfortable walking down our street
- Shaheen Dhada