The Meghalaya High Court has refused to quash the criminal proceedings against journalist Patricia Mukhim for her four-month-old Facebook post condemning the attack on five non-tribal youth by a gang of masked men, allegedly tribals, Live Law reported on Thursday.
A bench of Justice W. Diengdoh said Mukhim’s post “has sought to create a divide to the cordial relationship between the tribal and non-tribal living in the State of Meghalaya even alluding to the role of the state machinery as being bias (sic) in this regard”.
The court said Mukhim’s post attempts to “make a comparison between tribals and non-tribals vis-à-vis their rights and security and the alleged tipping of the balance in favour of one community over the other”.
This “would fall on the mischief of Section 153A (a) IPC as it apparently seeks to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two communities,” the court said.
The case refers to a Facebook post made by Mukhim, the editor of The Shillong Times, on 4 July, where she commented on an alleged attack on a group of boys playing basketball at Lawsohtun, Shillong.
The incident allegedly involved two groups — one consisting of tribal youths and the other consisting of non-tribals.
In a Facebook post, she called upon chief minister Conrad Sangma and the traditional Dorbar Shnong local body to take action against the culprits.
“This continued attack on non-tribals in Meghalaya, whose ancestors have lived here for decades, some having come here since the British period is reprehensible to say the least,” Mukhim had said.
“The fact that such attackers and trouble mongers since 1979 have never been arrested and if arrested never penalised according to law, suggests that Meghalaya has been a failed state for a long time now,” she had further added.
On July 7, a village council in Meghalaya filed a complaint against Mukhim for her allegedly inciting statements.
Based on this, the police registered a criminal case against Mukhim for promoting enmity between different groups.