On 29 November, Amit Malviya, chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party's information technology cell, tweeted out a sly warning to journalists. His warning did not immediately garner attention, but on reflection, it is really quite disturbing.
Malviya was referring to the conviction of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh in a defamation case filed by Prahlad Joshi, a BJP lawmaker from Dharwad, Karnataka. Joshi and another BJP leader, Umesh Dushi, had sued Lankesh over an article which she wrote criticising them in January, 2008. A Judicial Magistrate First Class court sentenced Lankesh to six months in prison along with a ₹5000 fine in two separate cases. She has been granted bail and plans to appeal the verdict in a higher court.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of criminal defamation laws in India.
Prahlad Joshi, BJP MP from Dharwad, gets Gouri Lankesh convicted in a defamation case. https://t.co/6DQTYDY1rO Hope other journos take note.— Amit Malviya (@malviyamit) November 29, 2016
By asking "other journos to take note" of Lankesh's conviction, Malviya appears to be warning journalists to watch their step while writing critically about the Modi government and the BJP.
That sentiment is antithetical to democracy.
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