Earlier this week, the Tripura police booked 102 Twitter handles for posts about communal violence in the state. Many of these charges were under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terror law. It was clearly an act of intimidation, designed to send a message: you dare not say what we do not want the world to know.

The police claimed that it booked the social media handles because it wanted to stop the spread of rumours that could be a threat to peace. No one can dispute that dangerous rumours need to be stopped. But the Tripura police’s action suggests it did not just want to stop rumours – it wanted to cover up the violence.

After all, word about the incidents in the state spread through social media posts until it became difficult for the so-called mainstream media to remain silent or play down the violence in its reports.

The Tripura police is following the troubling precedent set by its counterparts in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

In January, the Delhi Police filed a first information report against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and six journalists for allegedly sharing unverified news about the death of a man during the farmers’ protests.

For more than a year now, journalist Siddique Kapan has been in jail. His alleged…

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