Friday, December 8, 2023

Kerala police book man for FB post ‘in solidarity with Muslim women’

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Apparently, Kerala police conducting a massive crackdown against activists, overwhelmingly Muslims, for social media content criticising Hindu nationalist groups. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

Although Javid EP, a resident from Sreekandapuram in Kerala’s Kannur district, had learned about a case registered by local police for a Whatsapp message allegedly inciting communal violence last week, little had he known that he was the accused.

But on Tuesday, Sreekandapuram Police summoned Javid to the station and arrested him, before releasing him on bail. 

“I was shocked when I came to know it was me. I just shared a post like many others,” Javid told Maktoob.  He is adamant that “no part of the Facebook post” he shared, incites violence.

The 40-year-old businessman claims that the case is registered for sharing a Facebook post, authored by social activist and Malayalam actor Lali PM, critical of media reporting of press meet held by Muslim student leaders targetted by “Buli Bai”, an islamophobic mock auction App. 

“What is wrong in that?” he questions.

According to the FIR, accessed by Maktoob, Javid is booked under 153 of the Indian Penal Code — provocation with intent to cause a riot.

The case was registered on 6 January by police for sharing the post in a public WhatsApp group called “Sreekandapuram Nattuvishesham,” roughly translated as “local news from Sreekandapuram”. 

“Everyone wants to patronise Muslim women,” reads the post that calls out the gendered Islamophobia in society. 

“Although I am very critical of the government, this post has nothing to do with rioting,” says Lali. The FIR accusing provocation of rioting has puzzled the author.

“Police state, under RSS”

Apparently, Kerala police conducting a massive crackdown against activists, overwhelmingly Muslims, for social media content criticising Hindu nationalist groups.

Dozens of people are booked for social media posts — several are warned by cops.

“People from one specific community —Muslims — are targetted here. I wouldn’t have said this if that was not the case but It is the reality,” Lali added, citing recent developments. 

Recently Communist Party of India (CPI) national leader Anni Raj has slammed Kerala police for its RSS influence. “I have reasons to doubt the influence of RSS in the police force. It is a threat. the state government must take it very seriously,” she said. CPI is the second-largest member of the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala.

Several other political leaders, including CPI(M) state secretary Kodyeri Balakrishnan, has raised concern about RSS’s stronghold in Kerala police. 

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is in charge of the Home Ministry in the state.

“It is a hypocrisy that self-proclaimed RSS defender Pinaray Vijayan is silent about it,” says Aysha Renna, one among the women targetted by the Bulli Bai App.

“The behavior of Kerala police is sending a terrifying message to the people. It is nothing less than a police state now,” Renna added.  

Younus Khan, a Kerala-based social activist, has compiled a verified list of over 50 Muslim profiles, facing police action in the past two weeks for social media posts criticising RSS and Hindutva politics.

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Shaheen Abdulla
Shaheen Abdulla
Shaheen Abdulla is the Associate Creative Editor of Maktoob. Shaheen studies convergent journalism in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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