Tripura police have opened a criminal investigation against the owners of 102 journalists, lawyers and human rights activists for allegedly sharing ‘fake news’ about the mob attacks on Muslims in the state last month.
Australian journalist CJ Werleman says the latest charges against journalists, lawyers and human rights activists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for tweeting about anti-Muslim Tripura riots represent BJP’s nationwide effort to criminalize protests against the Modi government and Hindu committed violence and terrorist attacks against religious minorities, thus constituting another dangerous milestone in the country’s lurch towards fascism.
“In all failing states, particularly those seized by ultra-nationalist forces, the dirty work of the state is outsourced to right-wing militias, a direction India is now heading, as unemployment and poverty rise to record levels and the Modi regime runs out of excuses,” Mr Werleman told NRI Affairs.
Global Correspondent for Byline Times CJ Werleman is among the journalists booked by Tripura Police under the UAPA. Human rights activists around the world have criticized this law as brutal and inhuman.
The investigation follows anti-Muslim violence in Tripura last month when Hindu groups rallied against the killings of minority Hindus in bordering Bangladesh. Mob attacked mosques and homes and businesses owned by Muslims during these rallies.
Police said the owners of 102 social media accounts were being investigated for allegedly instigating further violence by sharing misleading information.
CJ Werleman is among the journalists who had tweeted about the Tripura violence. He tweeted that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not condemned the unrest and that Muslim protesters against the violence had been detained.
The action by Tripura police has been criticised by Indian and International organisations, including Reporters Without Borders and the Editors Guild of India.
The Editors Guild of India said it is “deeply shocked by the Tripura Police’s action of booking 102 people, including journalists, under the coercive Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for reporting and writing on the recent communal violence in the state.”
Shyam Meera Singh is another journalist who has been booked under UAPA for tweeting, “Tripura is burning.” However, Mr Singh says he is not afraid of jails.
“For writing only these 3 words “Tripura is burning”, BJP Government of Tripura has imposed UAPA on me. I want to reiterate once again, I will never hesitate to stand up for justice. PM of my country might be a coward, we journalists are not,” he tweeted.