Eight people in different parts of the country have been arrested this past week for social media posts targetting political leaders.
The arrest of Delhi-based journalist Prashant Kanojia on Saturday for comments about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Twitter caused a storm. The following day, two other journalists were arrested for allegedly defaming Adityanath and enraging the media fraternity. These two television journalists had aired a video that was shared on social media.
On Tuesday, Congress leader in Kerala Ramesh Chennithala compared Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Adityanath, telling the Assembly that 149 cases have been registered against several people since the government came to power for allegedly posting objectionable remarks about on social media.
Action has also been taken against people from Assam, Tripura and Chhattisgarh for social media posts.
Here is a round-up of the crackdown by governments:
- At least five people were arrested in a span of three days starting on Saturday, when journalist Prashant Kanojia was taken into custody for sharing a video in which a woman is seen speaking to reporters outside Chief Minister Adityanath’s office. The woman claimed she had been talking to Adityanath over video chat and had sent him a marriage proposal. The Supreme Court ordered Kanojia’s release on Tuesday.
- On Sunday, news channel Nation Live’s head Ishita Singh and Anuj Shukla, one of the channel’s editors, were arrested for allegedly defaming the chief minister by airing the video that Kanojia had shared on social media. The police said workers affiliated to a political party had approached it against the news channel for broadcasting the video without verifying facts. The channel also reportedly did not have the requisite licence to operate.
- Two people were arrested in Gorakhpur district on Monday for allegedly posting objectionable comments on social media, according to PTI. Peer Mohammad, a scrap dealer who is from the Gola area, was held for sharing an “objectionable post” about Adityanath and sent to the district jail. The post had been put up by a person identified as Dharmendra Bharti, who could not be arrested as he is out of the country. The police also arrested Shahpur resident Ram Prasad, who is a manager at a nursing home, for an objectionable social media post.
- The police in capital Raipur arrested a 34-year-old man, identified as Lalit Yadav, on June 9 for allegedly posting objectionable remarks about Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on social media. The police took action after receiving a complaint from Congress workers. He has been booked under Section 67(A) of the Information Technology Act, which deals with online obscenity.
- Yadav reportedly criticised the chief minister for his comments on the Skywalk project in Raipur. The Congress had halted the skywalk’s construction after coming to power in December, saying public sentiment was against the Rs 70-crore project, which was started by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government.
Tripura and Assam
- Two Bharatiya Janata Party supporters have been arrested in the last two days for allegedly putting up derogatory social media posts.
- In Assam, the police arrested BJP information technology cell member Nitu Bora on Thursday for blaming the BJP-led state government and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of failing to protect indigenous Assamese from migrant Muslim settlers. Two other BJP workers were questioned about similar allegations. One person was called in for questioning after he allegedly posted fake news that a man of a particular community had raped a woman of a local tribal community.
- The Tripura Police arrested a BJP supporter on Wednesday for alleged defamatory posts about Chief Minister Biplab Deb on Facebook. The post was about alleged marital discord between the chief minister and his wife.
- Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday said 149 cases were registered against several people for allegedly posting objectionable remarks about Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The details of cases filed were provided by the chief minister himself in a written reply to questions in the Assembly.
- Twenty-six people were arrested for making abusive comments about the chief minister in connection with the Sabarimala temple’s ban on women of menstruating age.
- Cases have been filed against 12 state government employees and one central government employee. Forty-one state government employees, including the 12 against whom cases were registered, are facing disciplinary actions, including suspension from service.