Police cases were filed against as many as 119 people for allegedly abusing Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on social media over the last three years, statistics provided by the state government have revealed. The disclosure has created an uproar in the state assembly, with opposition leaders comparing Mr Vijayan to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The figures were revealed by the Kerala Chief Minister himself in response to a starred question raised by United Democratic Front (UDF) leader MK Muneer in the state assembly earlier this year. The issue came up for discussion in the house again on Tuesday.
"Pinarayi Vijayan is walking in the footsteps of Yogi Adityanath," Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said in the assembly. "If someone opens their mouth against Pinarayi Vijayan, action is taken. But with all the hatred and slurs aimed at me, nothing is done despite complaints being given directly to the police."
According to the figures, 12 of the 119 people in question are government employees. Department-level action has also been initiated against another 29, it was revealed. Although NDTV was unable to access details, the cases were found to be registered under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for "offences" ranging from criminal intimidation to uttering obscene words and songs.
In 2018, a 45-year-old man was arrested for circulating an allegedly defamatory photograph of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with the caption "Ellam Shariyakum". The term can be translated in English to "Will make everything alright", an election slogan traditionally used by the Left.
In another incident, a case was registered against a man for allegedly making offensive remarks targeting the Chief Minister and his family background. He was accused of singing obscene songs in public places and resorting to criminal intimidation.
Among those against whom cases were registered for social media abuse of Mr Vijayan, are people who made death threats and caste-related derogatory comments.
"There is no difference between what is happening under Pinarayi Vijayan and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Any comment or criticism made against Pinarayi Vijayan is met with police action. But no action is taken on complaints raised by the Opposition," MK Muneer said.
However, Left Front sources claim that the cases were registered on the basis of complaints filed by members of the public against "very derogatory" remarks, and the Chief Minister was not involved.