India: Blogger Arrested Over ‘Disrespecting’ National Anthem on Facebook

Kamal C. Chavara

Kamal C. Chavara, a Malayalam writer and activist, was arrested on Decemberr 17 by Nadakavu police over a disrespectful post made on Facebook regarding the national anthem. The blogger is facing Sedition charges under Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code.

The blogger, known by the alias Kamalsy Prana, was taken into custody from Kozhikode following a complaint made at Karunagalapalli Police station by Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s largest political party. The post was reported to quote parts of his 2015 novel Smashanangalude Notepustakam.

According to the Freedom House’s 2016 Freedom of the Net report, India is marked as ‘Partly Free’. Political and social content is being blocked and bloggers are arrested over expressing their mind online. Among them, at least 17 people who were arrested in India for information distributed on WhatsApp. The press freedom in the state is also marked as Partly Free.

The report states that in at least 23 separate reported cases, local mobile internet services were shut down temporarily by authorities. The reasons varied from preventing unrest to reason as minor as obstructing cheating in an exam. Defamation laws criminalizing defaming speech were validated after being upheld by India’s Supreme Court. Additionally, government surveillance of online traffic is reported to take place by the Central Monitoring System.

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