A number of Twitter accounts, which belonged to the Kisan Ekta Morcha and others using provocative hashtags against the Modi government for the controversial farm laws, have been blocked after the IT Ministry apparently sent a legal notice to the social media giant.
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had directed Twitter to block around 250 Tweets/Twitter accounts which were using #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide hashtag and making "fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets" on Jan 30, news agency ANI reported quoting government sources.
The report stated that it was done on the request of Home Ministry as well as multiple law enforcement agencies to prevent any escalation of law and order in view of the on-going farmer agitation.
Citing threat to public order
The social networking site said that certain accounts tweeting anti-government and provocative material were considered to be inciting "genocide", which is a grave threat to public order, and therefore, the IT Ministry ordered for blocking them under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
In a statement, the Twitter spokesperson said it is in tune with the company's efforts in making its services available to people everywhere. "If we receive a properly scoped request from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time," the statement read.
"Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content. Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify the affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing so, for example, if we receive a court order under seal)," it added.
Crackdown on 'fake' accounts
Several accounts, including The Caravan India, Prasar Bharati chief, Manik Goyal, Tractor2twitr and jatt_junction, have been blocked. On January 31, the Delhi Police had reportedly filed a FIR against the Caravan magazine alleging that it was spreading false and misleading information regarding the death of a protester during the Republic Day tractor rally violence in New Delhi.
In addition, Twitter also seems to have blocked the accounts belonging to Aam Aadmi Party MLAs. However, the timeline of each blocked account is left blank, while "Account withheld" is written across it. "Your account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand," it read.
"Such withholdings will be limited to the specific jurisdiction that has issued the valid legal demand or where the content has been found to violate local law(s)," the social media giant said in its 'Help' section.
The latest crackdown on social media accounts follows the growing outrage among netizens over the clashes between the police and agitating farmers on the occasion of Republic Day in the national capital.
Amid all violence, the unfortunate death of a farmer at the ITO in central Delhi was the highlight of the day, with several journalists and activists sharing, time and again, and referring it to be a prudent example of the Modi government's severity over the farm laws.
Prominent journalists, including Rajdeep Sardesai and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, have been charged up with multiple police cases for posting and commenting on this matter.