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Two months on, Twitter mum on SGPC letter on hate tweets against Sikhs

Bibi Jagir Kaur, the SGPC chief, in April had written to Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey urging him to instruct direct social media platform's India staff to monitor, flag and remove tweets inciting hatred and violence against the Sikhs.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: June 20, 2021 8:05:03 am
In the last few months alone, Delhi Police has made international headlines for visiting Twitter’s India offices to “routinely” investigate its policies on tagging content as manipulated media.

Microblogging site Twitter, which is currently engaged in a standoff with the Indian governmnet over changes in the information technology rules, is yet to respond to a request by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) asking the social media giant to block handles posting hate speeches against Sikh community and farmers.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, the SGPC chief, in April had written to Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey urging him to instruct direct social media platform’s India staff to monitor, flag and remove tweets inciting hatred and violence against the Sikhs. She said the hate tweets against the community began soon after the Centre cleared the three contentious agri laws. Such tweets intensified after the SGPC extended support to the farmers protesting against the laws, she said.

“For a long time now, especially since Sikh organisations have directly supported farmers’ movement in India, there have been a lot of direct and deleterious hate-filled tweets against Sikhs on Twitter. These hate tweets have intensified after the resolution passed by the SGPC, the foremost constitutional organisation of the Sikhs, against the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)’s bid to make India a Hindu Rashtra,” the SGPC chief said in her letter to Dorsey.

She compared the tweets against Sikhs with “the anti-Jew propaganda of the Nazis in Germany”.

“At the same time, after the unfortunate incident in Malout with Abohar MLA Arun Narang, there has been an open attempt to create hate against the Sikhs and also bitterness between Hindus and Sikhs…The hate threats and calls of repeating 1984 genocide with the Sikhs, calling farmers as terrorists is common on Twitter,” reads the letter written on April 7.

The SGPC urged Dorsey to “instruct to your India team to monitor, flag and remove hate-filled tweets against Sikhs and also to block such Twitter handles”.

However, the SGPC is yet to get any response from Twitter over the letter.

Efforts by The Indian Express to reach Twitter for comments on the issue failed to yield any result.

Meanwhile, the SGPC IT team has continued to flag the alleged hate tweets. “There is flood of hate speech. We are trying to keep an account of such posts. But there are so many hate tweets that we can’t scan them all. There are threats to repeat 1984 and calls for genocide,” said SGPC spokesperson.

Several social media accounts had been targetting Sikhs and farmers ever since the peasants from Punjab launched the agitation against the agri laws. The Indian Express was first to report this in September last year.

There has been a sharp increase in such tweets after the tractor parade by farmers in Delhi on January 26.

“We respect freedom of speech and expression. But Twitter should ensure that no one should exploit right to freedom and speech and expression to make hate speech against Sikhs or any religion. There are forces, which are using Twitter in a very organised way to spread hate against Sikhs. We fear that Twitter had blocked #Sikh last year under pressure of these organised forces. It is not very difficult to see through such organised accounts, which are spreading hate. It is sad that Twitter hasn’t acted against such accounts,” said SGPC spokesperson.

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