JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Jakarta Metropolitan Police has arrested three men for agitating against the government’s ban on mudik, or the annual homecoming travel during the Eid al-Fitr or Idul Fitri Islamic holiday between May 6 to 17.
Jakarta Metropolitan Police spokesman Grand Police Commissioner Yusri Yunus said investigators arrested 34 year-old AA, 39 year-old BES and 33 year-old ES in Central Jakarta, West Jakarta and Cibitung in West Java province’s Bekasi regency on Saturday.
“[The suspects] spread messages from their WhatsApp group on Friday calling on transportation companies to hold protests on toll roads in Java, Bali, and Sumatra, so as to pressure the government into lifting the holiday travel ban,” Yusri asserted.
The suspects denied planning the unrest. “The three men claimed that they merely forwarded the message from one of their WhatsApp groups onto another group in the apps. They also maintained that they do not know the details of the activity, or even plan to participate in the protest,” he noted.
Yusri added that the police are trying to find the suspects organizing the protest. The police confiscated three cell-phones and sim cards that the three men used to forward the provocative messages.
The police charged the three men for spreading misinformation under the country’s Electronic Transaction and Information Law. If found guilty, they face up to six years in jail and a Rp. 1 billion [$70,646.40] fine.
The government imposed a total ban on homecoming travel throughout Indonesia during the Idul Fitri holiday to prevent large-scale transmission of Covid-19 cases, as well as a potential surge in the pandemic such as that which occurred in India.
The ban applies for travel to far-flung provinces as well as more localized travel to the surrounding areas of the country's largest cities, such as Jakarta, Medan, or Makassar.