IJU expresses solidarity with Tongam, demands action against online trolls

NEW DELHI, Apr 23: Expressing profound concern over the trolling of The Arunachal Times deputy editor Tongam Rina, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) joined its colleagues in Arunachal in demanding legal action against the online abusers at the earliest, following filing of an FIR with the SIT on Thursday.
Tongam, who has been seeking justice for the past eight years in a case of attempt to murder, when she was shot at in front of her office in 2012, is now being trolled for an article she wrote on the alleged rise in cases of wildlife hunting in Arunachal during the lockdown. The article followed three video clips circulating on WhatsApp, in two of which a man claims to have killed a cobra because he couldn’t find any meat since the lockdown.
“While the videos went viral and were sensationalized by two national TV channels, maligning the community, Tongam’s article on 18 April had merely reported that the state’s forest department had identified the three men in the video and was looking out for them for violating the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,” the IJU said.
Nowhere in the news report were any allegations made or any accusation of wrongdoing levelled, apart from what the men in the videos had claimed to have done. However, Tongam has been subjected to a plethora of online abuse and a campaign of hatred, and has even been threatened with physical violence in several posts.
Expressing solidarity with Tongam, IJU president Geetartha Pathak and secretary-general Sabina Inderjit in a statement said such trolling is unacceptable in any civilized society, and that it joins its affiliate, the Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, along with the Arunachal Press Club and the Arunachal Electronic & Digital Media Association, in condemning the online abuse, “more so, as the inflammatory headlines given by TV news channels, and not her article, would further ignite racist comments against students living outside the state, as the posts suggest.”
Based on Tongam’s complaint, special investigation team (SIT) has filed an FIR under 506/509 IPC, referenced with Section 67 of the IT Act and Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.
“The IJU demands that the hate mongers be arrested and put behind bars, to set an example that gender-based trolling will not be tolerated, and that attempts to silence a journalist, who has been at the forefront defending human and animal rights during her entire career, must be quelled,” the IJU said.