news Wednesday, August 05, 2015 - 05:30

Hounding anyone for a perceived insult to a political party or any of its leaders has become so common in Kerala, that recent instances of such behaviour by its cadre has forced the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to take notice. Some days ago Malayala Manorama’s Thiruvananthapuram senior correspondent Sujith Nair was trolled on Facebook by CPI (M) supporters after a report that carried his byline said that 25,000 party members had resigned in 2014. In July, feminist and activist Preetha G Nair was hounded on Facebook after she criticized CPI (M) leader G Sudhakaran for his comments on how actresses dress. These instances have forced the party to respond. CPI (M) MLA TM Thomas Isaac was forced to ask people to allow healthy debate on the medium. Describing Facebook as a platform which enables people to express their views and engage in healthy discussions, Isaac warned party members against abusive trolling and using profanities. “Facebook is popular because it enables people to express their views. Diverse views will obviously lead to some differences, but these should be resolved democratically.” Isaac said. On the recent behaviour of members of his party, Isaac said: “They are supposed to behave well with the public and should be approachable to the people. They can have healthy discussions and debates with those who espouse different ideologies, but abusing them with obscenities is not the conduct of a good party worker,” he said on his Facebook wall on Monday, adding that such behaviour would also dent the party’s image. Isaac was forced to respond because of the public outcry against abuse hurled at Nair and before that, Preetha. For two weeks Sujith was inundated with abuse that did not even spare his family. But leading the pack of trolls was another journalist, PM Manoj, Associate editor of CPI (M)’s mouth piece Deshabhimani. On July 18, when CPI (M) leader G Sudhakaran said that Malayalam film actresses “reveal too much of their body” for attention, even as they are “ignorant” of the art of acting, Preetha criticized him as did others. Calling him a fool (viddikooshmandam), she said that he had an inferiority complex as he could not read English. The abuse hurled against Preetha was possibly, worse than manner in which Sujith was treated. As has been seen elsewhere in the world, woman are treated to a particular brand of vitriol when abused online. Preetha was abused with obscenities and fake profiles were created in her name. Even her minor son’s picture was used to malign her. Multiple users reported her to Facebook, which blocked her account for a few days. “My ‪#‎Facebook profile had got blocked a few days back and I received a message saying that the name given in my Facebook account may not be my authentic name. I have absolutely no idea about the number of people who have complained against me or reported about my profile,” she wrote on her Facebook wall on July 20. Following this, Preetha’s posts were trolled ruthlessly. Her criticism on APJ Abdul Kalam’s support to Mata Amritanandamayi had also irked the right-wing who also her abused her for the last three weeks.  

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