It's not just sending a message that may land you in trouble nowadays. Even receiving a message on WhatsApp makes you vulnerable. Tadikala Akabar Saleem was last week arrested and charged with sedition at the Chennai airport where he had gone to pick up a friend who was arriving from Gulf because cops found an audio message in his phone that they deemed anti-national.
The airport police arrested Tadikala Saleem, 36, a native of Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, based on the complaint of an inspector attached to the customs air intelligence officials at Chennai airport.
"Saleem was waiting outside the airport to receive his friend arriving from the Gulf and was taken in custody after his friend was found carrying excess gold on arrival," a report in the Indian Express noted. Although, during the investigation and questioning the airport authorities didn't find any wrongdoing on the part of Saleem, they did chance upon a random audio message that Saleem had received on his WhatsApp. After that they referred the case to the airport police, which booked Saleem after claiming that the message was anti-national.
The alleged anti-national content of the audio message Saleem received was a call to Muslims to gather at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for a "show of strength”. According to the Indian Express, no specific date was mentioned for this gathering. An officer told the newspaper that the appeal was made in the name of "Maulana (Syed) Asad Madani saheb” of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, a leading Muslim organisation, and had originated in Malaysia. "It’s [the] first time we are getting a chance to show the power of Muslims,” the officer quoted the appeal as saying.The audio message was circulated along with an apparently morphed photo of a woman who was seen with papers from the holy book of Quran tied around her feet. The message also did not call for any violence or specify the date of the scheduled assembly.
The Chennai airport police subsequently booked Saleem on charges of sedition under IPC section 124A. However, Saleem was released by a magistrate court on Sunday before which he was produced by the police. The magistrate said there was no material evidence to prove an anti-national activity in that random WhatsApp message. Also, there was no call for violence,” an inspector from the airport police said.