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India arrests 14 for social media posts supporting Taliban

  • Published at 11:51 am August 22nd, 2021
A Google Map screenshot of Assam

All India United Democratic Front leader Md Fazlul Karim Qashimi and a police constable are among those arrested

The police in the Indian state of Assam have arrested 14 residents from 11 districts for posting social media messages allegedly in support of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, said Special Director General of Police GP Singh on Saturday.

“People are advised to be careful in posts/likes etc on social media platforms to avoid penal action,” he cautioned.

The accused people were arrested on Friday night and have been booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Information Technology Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure, reported PTI.

All India United Democratic Front leader Md Fazlul Karim Qashimi and a police constable are among those arrested, reported NDTV. Qashimi, the general secretary of the party, has been suspended from his post following the arrest.

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“While some directly supported [the] Taliban, some of them criticised India and the national media for not supporting Taliban,” a police official was quoted as saying by NDTV. “This could create communal tensions.”

At least 17 to 20 social media profiles were found supporting the Taliban and their action in Afghanistan, according to the police.

While most of them were from 11 districts in Assam, three profiles were from Mumbai, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, the police said.

They said that two people each were arrested from Kamrup (rural), Barpeta, Dhubri and Karimganj districts. One arrest each was made in Darrang, South Salmara, Goalpara, Hojai, Cachar and Hailakandi districts, an official added.

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Deputy Inspector General Violet Baruah said the police consider the social media posts and comments harmful to national security, reported The Indian Express. “Our social media monitoring cell has been keeping a watch and we noticed these posts, so accordingly we took action,” she said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he has directed the police to “act without fear and favour” in the case. “Need cooperation from every one to maintain peace and harmony,” he tweeted.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, entering the presidential palace in the capital Kabul and ending an insurgent offensive that ripped through the country in 10 days. On the same day, President Ashraf Ghani left the country and is currently in the United Arab Emirates.

The insurgent group made swift advances and captured key Afghan cities even as foreign troops were preparing to withdraw from the country by the end of August. The Taliban have returned to power after 20 years since it was ousted in 2001.