June 19, 2021 4:10:40 am
DAYS AFTER filing an FIR against Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India, some Congress leaders and journalists for tweets regarding a purported video clip of a 72-year-old man, Abdul Samad Saifi, being assaulted, the Ghaziabad police department has told Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari to “report to the Loni Border Police Station within seven days”.
“Some people used Twitter as a platform to spread animosity and hatred among people. Twitter did not take cognizance of such messages that sought to spread enmity and affect harmony among communities in the country/ states. Such messages were also allowed to go viral. The case is being investigated and your participation is mandatory. Report to the Loni Border police within seven days after receiving this letter to register your response,” says the notice to Maheshwari, dated June 17 and signed by Loni Border Police Station in-charge.
“We are hoping that the organisation will respond to our notice and participate in the probe. If there is no response from their side, we will discuss with our legal team regarding the next step, which may include orders for arrest. But we will wait till the given time period and decide accordingly,” said Dr Iraj Raja, SP, Ghaziabad Rural.
“There is an option of reporting abusive content which does not meet the standards of the site. We will also ask Twitter how many such reports were flagged by users regarding the video and what was their response,” said Raja.
While Saifi alleged that he was assaulted because of his religion, police ruled out any communal angle. According to police, Saifi was attacked because he had sold the accused a “tabeez (amulet)” that they believed did not work. Police said the incident took place in Ghaziabad’s Loni on June 5; the video clip was circulated on social media earlier this week.
In the FIR against Twitter and others on June 15, police invoked IPC Sections 153 (provocation for rioting), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 505 (mischief), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) against them.
“The tweets by the accused had been broadcast on a large scale. The statements made through social media by the accused hint at a criminal conspiracy. The accused and other people tried to create animosity between Hindus and Muslims. The tweets were an attempt to destroy communal harmony. These false tweets had been retweeted by thousands of people. The accused include journalists and political persons who did not make an attempt to establish the truth in the case and spread false news,” said the FIR.
The FIR said that despite the Ghaziabad Police clarifying the issue, the accused did not delete their tweets, neither did Twitter make any efforts to delete them.
“We are verifying the addresses and contacts of all those mentioned in the FIR. Notices will be sent to them as well and further legal action will be taken,” said Raja on Friday.
The FIR also names The Wire, journalists Mohammed Zubair and Rana Ayyub, Congress’s Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, Shama Mohamed and writer Saba Naqvi.
On Wednesday, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad referred to the Ghaziabad incident and criticised Twitter for what he called its “arbitrariness in fighting fake news” and “its inconsistency in fighting misinformation”.
He said the microblogging platform had “deliberately chosen” not to comply with new intermediary guidelines despite being given “multiple opportunities”. His remarks came after Ministry officials suggested that Twitter India no longer enjoyed legal protection.
Prasad warned that “if any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flag bearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the laws of the land, such attempts are misplaced”.
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