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Kerala Magazine Editor Booked Over Facebook Post Condemning Extra-Judicial Killings of ‘Maoists’

Kerala Police filed a case against a senior woman journalist based in Kozhikode, under the charge of inciting riot, for a Facebook post criticizing Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, for the extra-judicial killings of Maoists.

Kerala Magazine Editor Booked Over Facebook Post Condemning Extra-Judicial Killings of Maoists

Kerala Police filed a case against a senior woman journalist based in Kozhikode, under the charge of inciting riot, for a Facebook post criticizing Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, for the extra-judicial killings of Maoists.

On February 13, 2024, the Kozhikode Kasaba Police registered a first investigation report against P Ambika, Editor of Maruvaakku Magazine. This action stemmed out after Kerala general secretary of Newspapers Association of India (NAI), Martin Mennachery, filed a complaint on December 29, 2023.

Ambika was charged under Sections 153 of the Indian Penal Code (punishment for wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 120 (o) (Punishment for causing nuisance through any means of communication) of the Kerala Police Act.
FIR states that Ambika remarked Pinarayi Vijayan as a cannibalist for killing a cadre of Communist Party of India (Maoist) named Kavitha in an alleged encounter. The report accuses that the Facebook post was made with an intention to incite a riot. Additionally, the FIR accuses Maruvaakku as the mouthpiece of the proscribed CPI (Maoist).

Ambika’s Facebook post was made in the backdrop of Maoist cadre Kavitha’s murder by Thunderbolt commandos, the anti-Maoist squad of the state government. Posters put up by Maoists on December 28 informed the public that Andhra Pradesh native Kavitha Alias Lakshmi succumbed to injuries inflicted from the firing on November 13, 2023, at Ayyankunnu, Kannur district.

Ambika told The Observer Post, “This is not a personal attack against me. This is an attack against Maruvaakku Magazine and journalism. If the complaint based on my Facebook post was against me, why did the FIR accuse the magazine? Our magazine has been writing on marginalization faced by Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, political prisoners, and struggles of the marginalized for years. I strongly believe that the target is Maruvaakku, not me. None of the editorial board members, which includes journalists and social activists, have affiliations with any Maoist organization. Our magazine, which was started in 2014, is registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI). If our magazine was associated with any banned organization, then how did our magazine get registered?”

Criticizing the extrajudicial killings of Maoists, Ambika said, “Nine revolutionaries who were full-time political workers were killed in Kerala when a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party which claims to be the communist party, Pinarayi Vijayan is the home minister and chief minister. By seeing their bodies and postmortem report, it is evident that the majority of them were killed after being captured alive. Their eyes were mutilated, and legs and hands were broken by the police. None of the police officers were even injured slightly in any of these attacks. The killed were tortured after catching them alive while having food and sleeping. There is ample evidence to prove that all these are staged encounters.”

Criticizing the media and public, Ambika added, “When political activists are killed in Kerala, neither the media nor the public gives much importance to it and maintain silence”.

Ambika added that she was not informed by the police about the case, and she only came to know about it from her friends and the media. “I have filed for an anticipatory bail, and the hearing is scheduled for February 26. I was notified about the FIR by the police only after I filed the plea. The police came to my office and attempted to seize my mobile phone. I informed them that I would never delete the Facebook post and that I continue to stand by my writings. Instead of initiating a judicial investigation on these killings as per the judgment by the Supreme Court, the government is taking a case against me based on my Facebook post,” recounts Ambika.

Baburaj Bhagavathy, an editorial board member of Maruvaakku, said, “The complainant who is having right-wing politics wanted the police to charge UA(P)A. Citing her post, his complaint was that the chief minister is facing a threat to his life. We believe the force behind this complaint is Sangh Parivar. The state police have seized our magazines from individuals accused in other cases. There are intentional attempts to create terror narratives against our magazine.”

Condemning the case and criticizing the police, journalist Sidheeq Kappan told the reporter, “We are witnessing the vested interests of the state police based on the political affiliations of the complainants. A right-wing channel named Karma News published news against my wife which was followed by misogynistic slurs and death threats in the comment section. The police have not filed a FIR despite filing a complaint attached with evidence on February 11. But the same state police quickly filed a complaint against a senior journalist like Ambika for criticizing the chief minister. This is double justice.”

Sub-Inspector Unnikrishnan, who filed the FIR, told the reporter, “We have requested the cyber cell, and we will only take further actions upon instructions from superiors.” When asked about the accusation against the magazine as the mouthpiece of Maoist, Unnikrishnan said, “The FIR is solely based on the complaint, not on any investigation.”

Responding to the comment by SI, Ambika said, “If Deshabhimani, a newspaper of CPI (Marxist), is accused as the mouthpiece of any banned organization in a complaint, will the police write the same in the FIR?.”

Kerala witnessed the killing of 9 Maoists in alleged encounters in 8 years of Pinarayi Vijayan’s term. Kuppu Devaraj and Ajitha were killed in the forests of Malappuram district on November 26, 2016. Ajitha, Manivasakam, Karthik, and Aravind were killed in the forest of Palakkad district on October 28, 2019. C P Jaleel was shot dead at a resort in Wayanad district on March 6, 2019, and Velmurugan was killed in a forest of Wayanad district on November 3, 2020. Human Rights Activists allege that all these fake encounters are part of Operation Samadhan Prahar, a military project of the Indian government accused of being a genocidal project in favor of corporates.

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