In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ruling BJP's firebrand Lok Sabha member from Karnataka Anankumar Hegde urged PM Modi to have an Indian version of Twitter after the US-based micro-blogging site locked his account for a reportedly controversial tweet.
"As Twitter suspended/locked my personal account @AnantkumarH without prior intimation, we should develop an Indian version of it on a war-footing," said Hegde in a confidential letter to PM Modi.
Why did Twitter India lock Ananthkumar Hegde's account?
Twitter India has locked Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Uttara Kannada and former Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde's account, over tweets that "violate Twitter norms" and has asked him to delete those tweets to unlock it.
The BJP MP said to have posted a 'communal' tweet against the Tablighi Jamaat's religious gathering, he said, "Coronavirus, a dangerous virus infection used as a weapon, and using Islamic beliefs to put infection in Muslims...and from there spread it to others in society - is this not a plotting attempt?" he tweeted with suggestive hashtags, including " bioterrorism".
Seeking action against Twitter for wrongful interference in free speech, which is detrimental to the country's strategic interest and democratic fabric of society, Hegde said in the letter dated April 25 that the social media platform was an excellent case of digital colonisation Indians face from a corporate entity.
Hegde, 51, a four-time parliamentarian from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada coastal district in the state's northwest region, was a Union minister in the NDA government's first term (2014-19). Sirsi is about 405km northwest of Bengaluru in the southern state.
"Your account has been locked; we have determined this account violated the Twitter Rules," tweeted the micro-blogging site in response to Hegde's query on why his account or handle was locked. Twitter also asked Hegde to remove tweets that violate its rules to unlock his account. "If you think we have made a mistake, you can appeal the violation," tweeted Twitter to Hegde.
Ananthkumar Hegde's official letter to PM Modi
'Indian version of Twitter should be developed'
Enclosing a copy of the tweets between Twitter and him with his letter, Hegde said the Indian version of the digital platform could be developed through state-run NIC, CDAC, CDoT or the Indian start-up sector or a private entity.
"The action (locking his account) raises suspicion on the conduct of Twitter India. Handles belonging to elected public representatives are suspended without notice. Handles spreading discontent and fake news about Indian religions or Indian elected representatives are not warned/blocked even after repetitive complaints," asserted Hegde in the letter.
BJP MP accuses Twitter of suspending handles of 'pro-Indians '
Accusing Twitter of selective targeting of several nationalist handles and suspending or locking handles of pro-Indians, Hegde alleged that handles spewing poison and passing objectionable comments about the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister Amith Shah and chief ministers of India (states) were promoted via paid advertisements.
"I request your office to investigate the motives behind such acts by Twitter Inc. It must be also investigated if money is exchanged or personal like or dislike of a decision-maker of twitter leads to such actions to promote anti-India, anti-BJP, anti-Modi, anti-Indian establishment tweets," reiterated Hegde. Hegde also attached tweets whereby pro-Khalistan tweets were sponsored and accepted by Twitter Inc.
"I fail to understand how such a tweet does not violate their (its) own policy," the letter added. Through the letter, Hegde also requested the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to introduce regulations, accountability and transparency for social media platforms like Twitter, like newspapers and TV channels.
"We must also ensure that data remains in India and the source code should be with Indian agencies/NIC," said Hegde.