With objectionable posts on social networking sites trigging violence over the past week, the Maharashtra government is mulling action against not only those who upload them but also against those who "like" and forward them, state's Home Minister R R Patil said on Monday.
The move follows the killing of an information technology professional Mohsin Shaikh in Pune last Monday after derogatory pictures of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji and Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray were uploaded by unknown people on Facebook.
Activists of a little known radical group Hindu Rashtra Sena bludgeoned Shaikh to death as Pune was gripped by violence for two days.
There was trouble again in Pune, Nashik and Kolhapur on Sunday night after posts with derogatory references to B R Ambedkar were uploaded on Facebook.
Angry locals allegedly belonging to a political party vandalised state-run buses in these places.
"Social media is used all over the world. It is used for good purposes but anti-social elements are using it for evil purposes as seen from recent incidents in Maharashtra," Patil said.
"Those who "like" and forward objectionable content are in a way siding with the culprits and in the next few days, you will see stringent action taken against them," he said, adding, "People are reacting to the content on social media. It is seen that social media is being misused extensively."
"No one can say that somebody else has misued his or her mobile as the responsibility is of the owner of the mobile," he said.
He also said the government would see if there was a need for a separate legislation to prevent such misuse of the social media.
Patil termed as "rumour" media reports that the Centre has "rejected" Maharashtra government's report on the killing of Mohsin Shaikh. "These are rumours...our report has not been rejected by the Centre," he said.
"Mohsin was innocent. He had nothing to do with this (the objectionable posts)," the minister said.
Meanwhile, senior Congress minister Naseem Khan has demanded a ban on the outfit to which the killers of the 28-year-old software professional belonged.
Nineteen Hindu Rashtra Sena activists have so far been arrested in connection with Shaikh's murder.