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Delhi cops showed up in Bengaluru, quizzed Twitter MD for 2 hrs in Congress ‘toolkit’ case

Police had earlier visited Twitter India’s office in New Delhi, and summoned the Congress’s social media head Rohan Gupta and party spokesperson M V Rajeev Gowda, who filed the complaint.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi |
Updated: June 18, 2021 7:36:50 am
The notice to Twitter from Delhi Police came after the social media platform flagged some posts by ruling party leaders alleging a Congress plot to malign the Prime Minister. (File Photo)

A team of the Delhi Police Special Cell visited Bengaluru on May 31 to question Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari in connection with posts by BJP leaders alleging a “Congress toolkit” plot, which had led the Congress to lodge a complaint of “forgery”.

Police had earlier visited Twitter India’s office in New Delhi, and summoned the Congress’s social media head Rohan Gupta and party spokesperson M V Rajeev Gowda, who filed the complaint.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, whose tweet was among those flagged by Twitter as “manipulated”, is yet to be summoned for questioning.

A senior officer said the New Delhi Range of the Special Cell had approached Maheshwari days after police tried to serve a notice on Twitter at the social media company’s offices in the National Capital Region.

The police team had failed to locate the company’s Gurgaon office, and had found the one in Delhi locked on May 24.

“Another notice was sent to Maheshwari by the investigating officer to join the investigation and, this time, the IO told him that they would come to his house for questioning,” the officer said.

“Maheshwari subsequently communicated to them to come to Bengaluru for questioning, and two inspectors along with a senior officer went to Bengaluru to question him,” the officer added.

During the questioning, which went on for around two hours, the investigation team asked Maheshwari about the hierarchy of the company.

“They also asked him what sort of information Twitter had about the ‘toolkit’, and why they had chosen to give the ‘manipulated media’ label to the posts,” the officer said.

A senior officer from the Special Cell said they had sent a notice to Twitter earlier too, but had not received “an appropriate response”. Police had, therefore, decided to physically serve the notice, the officer said.

Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal had said at the time: “They (police) later visited their (Twitter’s) offices in Delhi and Gurgaon. This was necessitated as we wanted to ascertain who is the right person to serve a notice, as replies by Twitter India MD have been very ambiguous.”

Asked for a comment on Maheshwari’s questioning by Delhi Police in Bengaluru, a spokesperson for Twitter told The Indian Express on Thursday that the company had “cooperated with the law enforcement authorities and made our global policy position clear in that process”.

The Delhi Police Special Cell visit to Twitter’s offices last month had come days after the social media company flagged as “manipulated media” some posts by BJP leaders alleging a Congress plot to malign the central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The police claimed they wanted to serve a notice on Twitter after receiving complaints from Gupta and Gowda about the allegedly fake allegations.

A senior police officer said on Thursday that they were still conducting a preliminary enquiry before registering an FIR and summoning all individuals and organisations allegedly involved in the matter. The BJP’s Patra was also likely to be summoned for questioning, the officer said.

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