Paying Price For Criticizing Govt
Seven people have been arrested in Tamil Nadu in the last three weeks on charges of spreading rumours about the health condition of Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. More than 40 people have been booked so far for spreading words about the health of the CM, by uploading fake videos and audio chats on different social media platforms. However, the arrest of two employees of a bank in Coimbatore on October 13, is particularly unsettling, it has let the situation to drag a bit too far. The arrest of the bank clerk and a jewellery appraiser in Coimbatore were made on complaints lodged by an AIADMK party member Punitha Devi on October 7. She claimed that she overheard those two employees talking about CM’s health condition in a “mocking manner”.
Though Devi alleged that she was threatened by the two men when she objected, no such evidence of heated exchanges were found on CCTV camera. How surprisingly, the two were arrested because of mere allegations of some conversation. While such cases are taking place in the state, there has been no bulletin issued by the hospital authority so far about the health condition of the CM. Access is denied even to senior ministers of the AIADMK government. None of the political VIPs like Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah or Arun Jaitley who visited Apollo Hospital, got to see Jayalalithaa.
Even a PIL was dismissed by the Madras High Court seeking information on the CM’s health. If the CM’s health issue is kept a secret like this, then it is really hard to determine what is true and what is false. If the government is keen on curtailing rumours, it would do better by keeping people updated regularly on the broad state of the Chief Minister’s health, a matter that is a source of concern for all well-meaning individuals in the State. The police is also showing its high-handedness by arresting people on basis of complaints filed by AIADMK supporters. It seems that the cops have turned their blind eye to the party cadres who are assaulting other activists.
Journalism has taken a toll on over 200 cases of defamation filed against media since 2011 for reporting about party affairs. Arresting people for social media posts is purely curtailing of right of free speech that is going on rampant in the state. At a time when people should seek the truth about the CM’s health condition, such incidents reflect how the government is wielding its iron-hand to run the state.
A similar incident in West Bengal
Though the event didn’t draw any action from the police, but a 21-year-old girl from Kolkata was publicly shamed after she made a post on Facebook regarding the Durga Puja carnival on Kolkata’s Red Road area. Her picture, along with the words “Tibro dhikkar” (Shame on you) was up on a 5-feet high hoarding at her area, which was clearly a planned step taken by TMC supporters.
The Logical Indian take
High-handedness of the government and the party supporters are purely the results of anarchy that is being practised across these state, where free speech and expression can land a person to ordeal. Social media today has become the mouthpiece of expressions and opinion, and no matter which government stays in power, it has to face criticism and it has to answer tough questions. Examples of better government can only be set by proving its worth to the critics, not by curbing the freedom of the citizens. It’s high time to prioritise rationality over blind followership.
Whereas, we urge everyone to refrain from spreading rumours. Everyone should come and express their opinions online, as we have the right to exercise the freedom of speech. But there should be a line drawn between sharing opinions and spreading rumours. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
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