Police have arrested two men who abused prominent TV journalist Nisha Purushottaman on social media. On Friday, the Cyber Crime police station arrested VU Vineeth, a contract employee with Deshabhimani, a CPI(M) mouthpiece and TJ Jayajith, who works at a private firm. The duo who are Kollam natives were later let off on bail.
“A third accused in the case against Nisha is a man named Gokul P. He is responsible for the vulgar content including morphing the photo of the journalist. His arrest is also imminent and we will be taking action soon,” Circle Inspector of the Cyber Crime Station told TNM.
According to reports, when Jayjith came out on bail, the local CPI(M) unit led by Chavara area secretary Manoharan welcomed him.
In June 2020, three Kerala based television journalists, Nisha Purushothaman, the Chief News Producer of Manorama News, Kamalesh KG, Principal Correspondent with Asianet News and Prajula Kamalesh, News Editor with Asianet News, approached the police after they were harassed on social media by CPI(M) sympathisers. The journalists stated that they were targeted by the CPI(M)’s cyber cell for asking uncomfortable questions to the CM during the coverage of the pandemic, floods and gold smuggling case in the state.
Another accused Kannan Lal is yet to be arrested. However, Kannan is not an accused in the FIR lodged based on Nisha’s complaint.
“He is an accused based on a complaint filed by Kamalesh. According to the complaint, Kannan is responsible for the abuse faced by the journalist couple. However, this case is being investigated by a regular police station as not cyber crime sections have been attracted,” the CI added.
Following the controversy, while the CPI(M) has been alleging that they were being targeted by the media at the behest of the Congress and the BJP, many journalists have reiterated that it is their job to ask tough questions.
Speaking to TNM, Nisha said, "It is unfortunate that they got bail. It questions the sincerity of the govt in such cases.This is going to set a bad precedent".
Asianet News Chief Reporter Kamlesh and wife Prajula too faced personal attacks following the channel's reporting on the gold smuggling case.
Several allegations cropped up linking the Chief Minister’s office to Swapna Suresh, an accused in the gold smuggling case, as she was found to be working closely with the former Principal Secretary to the CM. In one of the press meets that were held following this development, CM Pinarayi lost his cool and questioned the media for linking him with the smuggling case. Since Kalamesh was among the journalists who asked questions to the CM, posts which targeted him started appearing on social media.