Illiberal Left: Kerala govt booked 119 since 2015 for objectionable posts against CM

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Updated: June 17, 2019 9:58:21 AM

While some of the posts included death threats and casteist slurs—where it can be argued that there was legitimate cause for action—there are a good many instances where the state government has acted against individuals for just critical or unflattering statements and posts.

Kerala govt booked 119 since 2015 for objectionable posts against CMKerala govt booked 119 since 2015 for objectionable posts against CM

There is no doubt Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee abused their power going after journalists and laypersons for “objectionable posts” on social media. But, while a section of the commentariat and many on social media, including troll farms, rushed to pillory Adityanath/Banerjee, it is important to point out that illiberal attitude exhibited by those in power isn’t necessarily a preserve of only one party or the other. In fact, for many a crusader for liberalism on Twitter, likely ideologically left, it would have come as considerable embarrassment that 119 individuals were booked in Kerala between 2016 and 2018 for objectionable remarks on social media against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

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While some of the posts included death threats and casteist slurs—where it can be argued that there was legitimate cause for action—there are a good many instances where the state government has acted against individuals for just critical or unflattering statements and posts. Indeed, 26 people have been arrested on related charges so far. Three were arrested for a harmless morphed photograph showing the CM feasting on a plantain leaf in the police station while a different person had been arrested last year for circulating a morphed picture of the CM in an unclothed state. Ironically, the CM’s own reply in the Assembly over such arrests is a case of the “Emperor’s new clothes”.

While the opposition has rightly condemned Vijayan, it is lamentable that even the opposition has not called out the CM for infringing upon freedom of expression. Such action not only shows gross disregard for the fundamental freedoms of Indian citizens but also institutionalises draconian and unconstitutional actions through precedence.

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