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Indian sacked for trolling journalist exits Dubai

The employer of the abuser even called up the journalist to apologise.

An Indian employee has left the country a day after he was sacked from a Dubai company following his online abuse against an Indian journalist, a top manager at the company told Khaleej Times.

The Indian employee, who worked at Alpha Paints — sister company of National Paints — sent abusive messages to journalist Rana Ayyub, who exposed the messages on Twitter before followers reported the messages to the management of the company.

The human resources manager of the company, who requested not to be named, confirmed to Khaleej Times that the employee was terminated after the management launched an investigation based on complaints they received from UAE residents.

The employee then requested he leave the country immediately before serious legal action was taken against him.

“He’s a newlywed man, and he knew the seriousness of the mistake he has committed. He broke the cybercrime law and was afraid that a serious legal action would be taken against him, so he asked to leave the country immediately,” said the manager, stressing that the company had no influence behind his decision of leaving.

The employee left the country at 7pm on Monday, and returned to India.

The UAE Cybercrime Law No 5 of 2012 includes stern punishments that could go up to a life sentence and/or a fine varying between Dh50,000 and Dh3 million depending the severity and seriousness of the cybercrime.

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What the UAE Law says about sacking

Legal experts agree with the company’s decision based on the UAE laws, but said if the employee feels that he has been terminated arbitrarily, there is also labour law to protect him.

Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner of legal firm Ashish Mehta & Associates, told Khaleej Times that the UAE has a clear cyber law and people should respect it.

“The UAE authorities have been conducting awareness campaigns about cyber laws. Each company in the UAE has internal policies based on the prevailing rules and regulations in the country. In this case, if the employee has damaged the company’s name and reputation, company officials can take such a step, which is based on the sole discretion of the employer.”

“In this case, I strongly condemn the action of the employee who has not only violated the cyber law, but has insulted religion too. Nobody has the right to insult any religion,” he said.

In this unique case, the accused is living in the UAE and the complainant journalist is in India, there is no issue of jurisdiction. “The world is becoming a very small place electronically and if someone’s reputation is damaged among people who electronically follow them from different parts of the world, they have the right to defend their reputation.”

In case the employee feels that he is terminated arbitrarily without following the labour rules, he can approach a labour court with his grievance, Ashish added.

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Rana Ayyub impressed with UAE as firm fires Indian staff for trolling her

Anamika Chatterjee

Indian journalist Rana Ayyub has expressed her gratitude for the UAE after a man who harassed her on social media was fired by a UAE firm, and has had his visa revoked.

In a phone interview with Khaleej Times, Ayyub said that the man in question would message her “every now and then” on her personal Facebook account.

During the time Ayyub’s book Gujarat Files was published last year, for example, he messaged her “Go back to Pakistan!”, she recalled.

As she is “constantly trolled” on social media, she ignored the message, she said. But after a particularly vulgar and sexually charged message sent on December 3, 2016, she decided to post a screenshot to her over 100,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.

He deactivated his Facebook account soon after the screenshot was posted, she says.

According to Ayyub, some of her UAE-based social media followers decided to do a background check, and attempted to question him.

When he responded that his account had been deleted, Ayyub’s supporters went to the HR department of the company – Alpha Paints in Dubai, a sister company of Sharjah National Paints – who asked him to re-activate his account.

Once forced to do so, they spotted a number of other hateful and inappropriate messages that he had sent.

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Shortly afterwards, the firm terminated him, and his visa was revoked.

Ayyub said she planned to file an FIR (First Information Report) in New Delhi on Tuesday, on the grounds of ‘outraging a woman’s modesty’.

“My respect for the UAE government has gone several notches up, given how the matter was dealt with,” she told Khaleej Times.

Social media reactions

News about the man’s termination was swiftly met with approval from Ayyub’s legions of social media followers.

“It’s a great step taken by involving the employer,” one Twitter user wrote. “We are being told to respect the women folk here in the UAE, how can he use vulgar words?”

Another Twitter user noted that the case “will be a lesson to abusive trolls who think being outside India will shield them from law.”

Ayyub has tweeted today that a National Paints representative called her up on Tuesday “to apologise on behalf of the company and for the harassment” she was subjected to by the firm’s former employee. “Our company policy detests and punishes such attitude to women,” she quoted the firm’s representative as saying.

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