In Kerala, Police warns bloggers and Facebook users posting against Chief Minister. A teenager arrested for WhatsApp messages!

A bizarre police order suppressing FoE against the Chief Minister of Kerala has the bloggers up in arms

A bizarre police order suppressing FoE against the Chief Minister of Kerala has the bloggers up in arms. It behooves Pinarayi Vijayan to withdraw this order or risk ridicule
A bizarre police order suppressing FoE against the Chief Minister of Kerala has the bloggers up in arms. It behooves Pinarayi Vijayan to withdraw this order or risk ridicule

The rules are different for Left parties on Freedom of Expression (FoE) where they are in power. In Kerala, in a bizarre incident a few days ago, the State Police’s Hi-Tech cell has issued a notice to many bloggers, those who run Facebook posts and websites that they should not publish any sort of images or contents ridiculing the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The curious police order cited many provisions of Information Technology Act that prescribe penalties due to defamation and objectionable contents.

While the Left leaders make brouhaha on the so-called oppression of FoE and “intolerance” in India in the BJP regime, such rules of FoE evidently seem to not apply in the state where they are in power.

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, in Communist Party of India (Marxist)(CPI(M)) forte Kannur District,  based on a complaint filed by the CPI (M) Mavilai Branch Committee Secretary, Police arrested a 20-year old youth Vaishnav for posting a satire or “ridiculing” or “defamatory” photos and comments about the Chief Minister in a local WhatsApp Group. The youth was arrested and later released on police station bail with a warning to behave properly.

This is really a bizarre incident. Arresting a person for a WhatsApp Group message or posting some cartoons or morphed photos of CPI(M) strongman Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is not a good sign for democracy. Across the Globe, in many democratic countries, politicians are subject to sarcasm and harsh criticisms and even bitter ridiculing. That goes with the territory. Politicians world over will agree that any publicity is good publicity. To arrest someone for sharing meme is harsh.

This happened last year too. The News Minute website had published a detailed report on the Kerala Police Hi-Tech Cell’s caution notice to the bloggers and Facebook post owners restraining from them from publishing “derogatory” contents against the Chief Minister[1].

While the Left leaders make brouhaha on the so-called oppression of FoE and “intolerance” in India in the BJP regime, such rules of FoE evidently seem to not apply in the state where they are in power. It is strange that while CPI(M) and Left parties love to give, they don’t relish it when they get it back in kind.

This move of the Police appears to have boomeranged, with many in their Facebook and blog pages protesting against the Police order and coming out with more memes and satire critical of the state administration.

References:

[1] Kerala police pulls up Facebook page for meme on Pinarayi Vijayan, controversy eruptsMar 26, 2017, TheNewsMinute.com

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