CM flags bid to subvert communal amity

A top-level Home Department meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday flagged “multiple attempts from unnamed quarters” to vitiate the communal atmosphere in the State.

The meeting reportedly noted with concern that hate speech, particularly against Christian and Muslim minorities, had abounded on social media.

The immediate provocation appeared to be Pala Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt's “cautionary sermon” on radical Islamists purportedly using lethally addictive narcotic drugs to corrupt Catholic and non-Muslim youth.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan had called the government’s attention to the torrent of provocative messages online. He said if unchecked, the destabilising invective disseminated widely using the ubiquitous social media could polarise society deeply.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran accused the government of doing little to curb the hate speech.

A senior police official pointed out that a largely anonymous online campaign against the infamous Kathua rape incident had manifested as a flash hartal that put communities on edge and disrupted life in some measure in the State in April 2018.

The mobilisers had organised the disruption via social media groups.

He said two opposing sets of “hardliners” had used a similar technique to organise spirited demonstrations for and against the Pala Bishop in the wake of the controversial pastoral speech.

The police were working below the radar to reduce social tensions. The emphasis was on conflict resolution.

Mr. Vijayan had indicated on Wednesday that the government would hold a round table of all stakeholders, including political parties, to pre-empt the issue from boiling over.

The State Police Cyberdome routinely identified and removed hate speech on social media. It had shut down fake accounts used to create COVID-19 vaccine reluctance in society by propagating false theories.

An official said the police would prosecute those who attempted to create communal discord based on specific complaints. The line between free speech and hate speech was often blurred, he said.

Mr. Vijayan ordered the police to identify and prosecute those who imperilled public peace and communal harmony.

Chief Secretary V.P. Joy; Additional Chief Secretary, Home, T.K. Jose; State Police Chief Anil Kant; ADGP, Law and Order, Vijay Sakhare; ADGP, Intelligence T.K. Vinod Kumar; and ADGP, Cyberdome, Manoj Abraham were present.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 6:15:58 PM |

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