India Divided: Are you pro-Thackeray or anti-Thackeray?

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Mumbai, Nov 20: India is in a debating mood, at least in social networking sites, and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray being the subject of debate. It seems the entire country is divided into two groups, pro-Thackeray and anti-Thackeray. Shiv Sena supremo died after suffering a cardiac arrest on Saturday, Nov 17. The country witnessed unprecedented mourning as lakhs attended Thakeray's funeral on Sunday.

A Cut of Bal Thackeray

But the arrest of two Mumbai girls - Shaheen Dhada and her friend Rini Srinivasan - for their alleged anti-Thackeray comment on Facebook changed the entire game. A nation outraged by the arrest of the duo for posting comment against Mumbai bandh following Thackeray's death decided to come out in open against Shiv Sena supremo's style of politics. 

Journalist Seema Mustafa's Facebook status message (as shared by one of her FB contacts) read: "They (read govt) arrested two little girls for posting their views on Thackeray when actually it is they who should have been arrested for insulting the indian national flag and burying Thackeray with state honours."

On Twitter, Newsweek International editor Tunku Varadarajan was blunt: "OK, I say what no mainstream Indian journalist has had the balls/cojones/tattey to say: GOOD RIDDANCE THACKERAY. India's now a better place."

Another tweet by Raheel Khursheed said: "The message is clear: Indulge in violence, xenophobia, communalism - get a state funeral. Exercise ur right to free speech - get jailed."

However, after his death, politicians, film actors, sportsmen and businessmen praised Bal Thackeray as a great leader. "Maharashtra has lost a veteran, experienced leader....He was a politician, cartoonist, editor, organiser as well as art-lover and orator," Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said. Singer Asha Bhosle said she had lots of memories and it was a "sad day" for her. Lata Mangeshkar said Maharashtra has been "orphaned" today. Tamil superstar Rajinikant described Thackeray as a great personality and said he has lost a "father figure".

The two girls, who dared to use their constitutional right of freedom of speech, were sent to jail on Monday. Now, the two young ladies deleted their Facebook accounts which they had taken as a platform to express their rage against bandh (strike) which was observed in many places in Maharashtra on Monday mourning Bal Thackeray's demise. "People like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that," Dhada had reportedly written on her Facebook wall. Dhada's friend "liked" her comment and landed in the legal trouble.

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