The Left Democratic Front (LDF)-led government in Kerala has resorted to intimidatory tactics against prominent Malayali journalist Vinu V John for questioning the assault on an auto driver by Communist party goons during the ‘Bharat Bandh’ last month.
John, who works with Asianet News, had questioned CPIM Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem, who sought to trivialise the assault by his party goons. It must be mentioned that the ‘failed’ Bharat Bandh was observed by the Communist party between March 28 and March 29 this year.
On March 28, an auto driver named Yaseer was thrashed by CPIM-backed trade unionists for ferrying a patient to a hospital in Malappuram. Yaseer was mercilessly beaten, following which the began bleeding from his nose.
A Muslim— 🇮🇳 Ramaswamy Iyer 🕉️ (@iyer_rn) March 31, 2022
Yasir Muthoor(auto driver) from Malappuram,Kerala
Brutally lynched by 25+ Marxist goons for
Taking Critical Patient to Hospital during Hartal.
Most Media Not Interested in the News, while
Journalist @vinuvjohn who exposed it facing intimidation from Communists pic.twitter.com/SGKKaCXP0s
While reacting to the news, CPIM Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem had claimed, “We had given the strike call two months ago…. Now they say someone was scratched and pinched.” Kareem is also the General Secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
An infuriated Asianet News journalist Vinu V John had slammed Kareem for downplaying the assault on the auto driver and inquired about the reaction, had the CPI(M) Parliamentarian been assaulted.
During his news hour programme on last Monday, he had remarked, “They should have vandalised the vehicle in which Elamaram Kareem was travelling. And then the occupants — if he were travelling with his family — should have been de-boarded. The tyres of the vehicle carrying Elamaram Kareem should have been deflated.”
He had added, “Elamaram Kareem, like Yasser, should have been slapped in the face and left bleeding from his nose. Then he would have realised whether it was just scratching, pinching or insulting.” CPIM party workers, who interpreted his words as a direct threat, marched to the Asianet News’ office in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday (March 30).
Communist party resorts to intimidation and coercion tactics
“He has openly made a statement on the channel to attack Elamaram Kareem and his family. A democratic society can never accept this kind of call for violence,” alleged CM State Secretariat.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had also refused to send its party spokespersons to the show hosted by Vinu V John. Posters against the Asianet News journalist were put up in public places by party workers.
Written in Malayalam, the posters read, “Is Vinu V. John a media goon? Protest and react against the uncultured Vinu V. John. Protest against Vinu V. John’s call for violence against Elamaram Kareem. Isolate Vinu V. John.”
Palpable frustration! Posters against @vinuvjohn in different parts of Thiruvananthapuram, asking the police to arrest him for questioning the atrocities committed by trade union strikers. When was the last time police arrested somebody after seeing a public poster?! pic.twitter.com/Oq0jWa8Msv— Sreejith Panickar (@PanickarS) April 3, 2022
An Independent MLA backed by the Left, PV Anvar went on to threaten the journalist with physical harm. “If I didn’t have these three letters — “M-L-A” — on my forehead, I would have known how to deal with him (John),” he had warned. Anvar went on to label John as ‘polluted’, ‘filthy’ and ‘degenerate’ and claim that the journalist has several fathers.
Solidarity with @AsianetNewsML @vinuvjohn. He told us the story of strikers going rouge on the streets trashing common man.— Rejimon Kuttappan (@rejitweets) March 30, 2022
He criticised @ElamaramKareem_ for trivialising attacks. Today, TUs are marching to his office. Embrassing, @SitaramYechury! pic.twitter.com/JKe1MlqOsM
In a tweet, author Rejimon Kuttappan had said, “Solidarity with Asianet News Vinu V John. He told us the story of strikers going rouge on the streets trashing common man. He criticised Elamaram Kareem for trivialising attacks. Today, TUs are marching to his office. Embarrassing, Sitaram Yechury!”
Asianet News, Independent analysts back journalist Vinu V John
On Sunday (April 3), Executive Editor of the news channel Sindhu Sooryakumar extended her support to Vinu V john. She had remarked, “Vinu has the full support of Asianet. But we are also talking to CPM leaders to eliminate the misunderstanding since Vinu did not say what he is being accused of,” she said.
Sindhu Sooryakumar informed that the channel will take all possible legal action against the threats made by the Rajya Sabha MP. According to media panellist and advocate A Jayashankar, John was being made a scapegoat by the Communist regime to compensate for the flop show on Bharat Bandh.
“He had not said that Kareem should be assaulted, or that the car in which his family was travelling should be stopped and the tyres deflated. He had only asked how Kareem would react had he been in the place of that autorickshaw driver. Anyone can understand from the video which is still circulating,” Jayashankar pointed out.
He further emphasised, “This was misinterpreted by the CPM to get a hold on the issue at a time when a large number of people and businesses had turned against them for shutting down the state for two days.”
In retaliation to the posters pasted on walls by CPI(M) workers, Vinu V John changed his Twitter Dp and cover photo with the image of the posters.
According to lawyer Harish Vasudevan, the Communist regime had overreacted to the comments made by John. “He (John) had only asked how a CPM leader would react if such a thing happened to him. It was not a call to attack Kareem,” the lawyer said.
Vasudevan further emphasised, “A political party should not have targeted a journalist. Instead of focusing on the larger issue (of the strike affecting the people), they simply narrowed down the focus on a journalist. That should not be the priority of a political party,” he added.
Bharat bandh failed to make any impact
As per reports, banking services and public transport were affected on March 28 as strikes were held in a few states, with Kerala being one of them. Offices across the state reported only thin attendance and all the educational institutions remained closed. However, the essential services remained largely unaffected.
On March 29, bank unions also joined the strike to protest against the government’s move to privatize two public sector banks as announced in Budget 2021-22. Also, the public transport services across the state were hit. The trade unions had protested against the Central government’s policies allegedly affecting workers, farmers, and people in general.
Except for Kerala (where state unions exercised their writ with force), the strike had very little impact on the lives of people otherwise. It was business as usual elsewhere. This however did not stop the usual suspects from claiming that the Bharat Bandh threw Indians into a state of confusion.