The authorities in the UAE over the weekend booked three more Indians for spreading hate online. Diplomatic sources said this is part of the Gulf country’s campaign to monitor community activities by expat Indians as intense social media exchanges between Indian and Gulf commentators continue.
The latest to be booked are Rohit Rawat, a chef employed with a high-end Italian restaurant, Sachin Kinnigoli, a storekeeper and an employee with the Transguard group who posted offensive messages in a Facebook page in the name of Vishal Thakur. All three individuals have been terminated from respective positions and the administration of Dubai is acting against them as per the its Cybercrime Law No 5 of 2012.
Sources from the UAE said the country is unlikely to tolerate online hate and is monitoring both online and offline activities by expats, especially comments that inflame religious sentiments. An offender will get jail terms and heavy fines depending on the scale of the crime. Since early March, there have been at least 11 cases of Indian expats getting sacked and punished for the crime.
Continued online hate speech and crackdown by the authorities have drawn the attention of Indian Ambassador Pavan Kapoor who had intervened earlier reminding Indians that discrimination is against the rule of law and the “moral fabric” of India. Nevertheless, heated exchanges continued over the past fortnight which prompted Princess Hend Al Qassemi of Sharjah to criticise dominant political trends in India.
It is learnt that the UAE, which has a large expat Hindu population, has begun to watch out for signs of extremism among the Hindus and activities of the Hindu social and cultural figures in a focused way after a prominent Indian priest was arrested in March 2019.
After a brief detention, Mahant Sudhir Das Pujari of the Kala Ram temple of Nasik was released and allowed to return home. The Mahant has thanked Indian diplomats in Dubai for helping him with legal assistance and said the controversy was not related to his religious activities. “I had opened three companies as my personal business ventures. But my ties with my local Arab business partner had begun to go wrong as he demanded ₹2 crore which led to a dispute. I carried out only small-scale religious activities during my stay,” the Mahant told The Hindu over telephone.
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