Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale who was arrested over an allegedly derogatory social media post about Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is now out on bail, but says she isn’t sure if her troubles are over. Speaking to CNN-News18, she recounted her time of tribulation as she spent around 40 days behind bars after sharing on Facebook a poem, allegedly written on Pawar, calling him a person who hates Brahmins.
“I look back and think as to how weird our justice system is, how unfair, how unlawfully I was picked up from my place and thrown behind bars for just copy-pasting someone else’s poem, they were not even my words. And is this how India is going to work? Isn’t it illegal to just pick someone up, without any prior intimation, without any notice given, without any arrest warrant? And it was just a post. It wasn’t even as if I was targeting somebody. People interpreted it to be Mr Sharad Pawar and they just picked me up and there were 22 FIRs. Whenever I think about it, that is what comes to my mind,” she said.
The actor also alleged that while in police custody, she was beaten and molested by female NCP workers.
“I was just picked up, taken into custody. Then the custody changed hands. From Kalamboli I was given to Thane police custody. And I was beaten up by NCP females who were there. They were a mob of about 20 people along with reporters. Of course, reporters did not harass me. But they (NCP workers) threw colour at me. They say it is ink, but it wasn’t ink. It was that toxic black colour, which is extremely harmful to our skin. They threw that colour at me, they threw eggs, while in police custody. What was the police doing, inside the police compound? It is illegal, unlawful. Not only me being attacked, harassed, beaten, molested…I was molested, you know…My pallu fell down. I was wearing a sari, my pallu fell down, someone tripped me over, hit me, hit my right breast, and when they hit me, I fell into the police car, and so my sari went up, my pallu fell down…And, OK, I understand you are angry or whatever it is, but being a female they are molesting another female. Are these people who should be representing us in future?” she said in the interview.
Chitale recounted that her custody kept changing hands even as, she said, all this was over some derogatory comments that had been made under her post by some other people.
“After that they just take me and I am in police custody for four days. After that I am remanded into judicial custody for a day. And then the Rabale police come into the scenario…They pick me up, again the hands change. And my old case, which was filed against me in 2020…3rd March…Some youngster, he filed an FIR against me, which was an atrocities case, but I hadn’t written anything atrocious. They had complained on the basis of the comments that had come on that post. And there are three people, who the police have specifically, categorically written down the names of. But those three people are absconding. The police are saying they don’t know where these three people are… I was remanded again for five days under police custody,” she said.
The actor also asked why the police had failed to track down the three people. “What is cybercrime doing? My case has gone into cybercrime, all my gadgets have been confiscated, they have been searching my gadgets, I am sure they must have mirrored them. If all of this is possible, can’t our cybercrime unit find out who these three people are who have actually spoken atrocious things, which I do not, do not, support at all. Even when I gave my statement to the police, I had specifically, categorically told them that I do not support such comments because they were really, really pathetic,” said Chitale.
The actor also spoke about the detrimental effects the whole experience has had on her life and career.
“I am never ever going to get those 41 days of my life back, I have lost work, I have lost projects. I don’t know if I’m going to get new projects ever in my life again because now I have been labelled as a criminal,” she said. “Even right now, I’m out on bail. So I might be arrested again. It’s not as if I’m a free human being. In the rest 21 cases that were filed against me, I have still only received interim relief.”
Chitale told CNN-News18 that this was not the first time that she had been targeted and that she was being trolled on social media since 2017.
She also pointed out that top politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Asaduddin Owaisi, etc, have been speaking up in support of fact-checker Mohammed Zubair who was recently arrested over a past tweet. “Now we know, who the zookeepers are for this Zubair,” she said.
The actor also said that her fight wasn’t yet over. “In the end truth wins. I have suffered and I am not going to let it go,” she said.
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