At a time when the debate around freedom of expression has gathered momentum following the arrest of journalist Prashant Kanojia by the Uttar Pradesh police for a social media post on UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the Kerala government has revealed that as many as 119 people have been booked in the last three years for humiliating Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on social media. This includes 12 state government and quasi government employees, one central government employee and 106 others.
The reply by the Chief Minister was uploaded on the assembly website in reply to a question posed during the session in January, by MK Muneer, deputy leader of the Opposition and senior leader of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). PTI reports that in another reply given by the Chief Minister, it has been noted that 26 people were arrested for posting abusive comments or videos against him during the Sabarimala issue.
However, it is unclear how many among the 119 cases were registered for casteist abuses on CM Pinarayi Vijayan. In October 2018, a woman was booked for allegedly hurling casteist slurs on the CM.
The Chief Minister also said that action had been initiated against 41 government/quasi government employees for remarks against CM and his cabinet of ministers. Among these, cases have been registered against 12 people, and departmental level disciplinary action has been taken against 29 persons.
Three persons have been booked for ridiculing Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala too.
"Pinarayi Vijayan is walking in the footsteps of Yogi Adityanath," Chennithala said in the assembly. He however complained that anyone who opened their mouth against Pinarayi Vijayan was caught, but police refused to act on complaints given by leaders in the Opposition.
Legislators including the Chief Minister, the Opposition Leader, Ministers KT Jaleel, KK Shailaja, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, MLAs N Vijayan Pillai, MK Muneer, Raju Abraham, S Rajendran, Antony John, KV Adbul Khader, V Abdurahiman, K Ansalan, PC George, Anoop Jacob, VD Satheesan, KV Abdul Khader, V Adbu Rahiman, Anwar, B Sathyan and V Joy have lodged complaints against social media users.
The Chief Minister also informed that many such posts had been removed from social media and probe has been ongoing on the same.