Minor’s social media post on religious rituals sparks row

Mother tenders apology after outcry over alleged insult to religious sentiments

AGNELO PEREIRA | MAY 16, 2024, 01:28 AM IST


A seemingly innocuous social media post regarding the environmental impact of the ongoing Devi Lairai festival in Shirgao has stirred up a controversy in Mapusa, leading to the lodging of a police complaint against a 17-year-old girl.

The teenager’s critique of the “homkhand” ritual performed during the Shirgao zatra on Instagram has sparked outrage among a section of the majority community, prompting intervention from local authorities.

In her Instagram post on Tuesday, the minor questioned the cultural and environmental implications of the traditional fire ritual, expressing concern over its environmental impact.

“I don’t know how you can call it a culture or a tradition and praise anybody while you cause harm to the environment in such a manner,” she wrote, advocating for mindful actions in preserving cultural practices.

The post swiftly drew backlash from members of the community, who gathered at the Mapusa Police Station late on Tuesday evening, demanding action against the girl.

Subsequently, an FIR was lodged against her under Section 295 (A) of the IPC, which pertains to insulting religious beliefs.

However, on Wednesday, the mother of the girl stepped forward to apologise for her daughter’s post, emphasising that it was not intended to offend religious sentiments but rather to highlight environmental concerns.

In a video statement, she expressed regret over the incident and pleaded for forgiveness on behalf of her daughter.

The mother further disclosed that she had approached the complainants and persuaded them to withdraw the complaint against her daughter, assuring them of a public apology.

Subsequently, an agreement was reached, where the mother was asked to give a public apology on behalf of her daughter.

The incident underscores the delicate balance between freedom of expression and religious sensitivities in the digital age, raising questions about the boundaries of online discourse and the need for respectful dialogue on contentious issues.

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