One of the ways to use social media responsibly is to "not comment anything against the interests of the nation”

Police flyers lecture Hyderabad University students on hate posts on social mediaImage: Facebook/University of Hyderabad
news Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 17:21

Students at the University of Hyderabad are not happy – they are now being lectured by the police on the dos and donts of social media behaviour, national interest and hate speech.

The jurisdictional Cyberabad police have handed out flyers to students on campus and have also put them up on notice boards in the college and the hostels. The flyers, a copy of which is with The News Minute, were distributed during a “freshers’ meet” organized by the university, and state, “You can get expelled, suspended or punished for a social media hate post.”

Among the ways specified to use social media responsibly is “do not comment anything against the interests of the nation.(sic)”.

“This actually started during the Yakub Memon hanging. There were a lot of protests in the campus against the government’s stand of hanging him,” says Arundhati, an activist and a student of the university.

These points in the flyer were followed by mention of three provisions in the Indian Penal Code that one could be charged with for such posts. Section 153(A) which deals with promoting enmity between different groups, Section 295(A) for deliberate acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any group and Section 501 for publishing matter known to be defamatory.

Mentioning the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, the flyer says “Whoever commits mischief by doing any act in respect of any public property shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, which may extend to five years and with fine.”

In Arundhati’s view, this was very unusual. “What is strange is that the Hyderabad Police Commissioner was invited to speak at a small freshers meet and he spoke about how the freshers should not involve themselves in politics and then distributed the flyers across campus. Basically, they tried to create fear in the juniors.”

None of this has gone down well with the students. “We post comments on Facebook criticizing certain aspects of religion which does make some people angry. Will we be booked for that too? There is no clarity as to what exactly constitutes as an offence....we are not sure where this might lead,” another student told Deccan Chronicle.

The heads of all student bodies are planning to meet the Vice-Chancellor next week on the issue.