The Uttar Pradesh (UP) police on June 15 lodged a first information report (FIR) FIR against Twitter, media publication The Wire, and others regarding a series of Tweets that allegedly showed an elderly man being assaulted in Ghaziabad.
The FIR was filed at 11:20 PM on June 15, according to a report by The Wire. The complaint also named AltNews reporter Mohammad Zubair, prominent journalist Rana Ayub, Congress’s Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani and Shama Mohamed, writer Saba Naqvi and social media giant Twitter’s US and India entities.
The FIR was filed at Loni Border Police Station in Ghaziabad district, MediaNama reported on Wednesday.
The FIR has invoked sections including IPC Section 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.
AltNews reporter Zubair had recently tweeted videos of an elderly man in his 70s being roughed while on his way to offer prayers at a mosque on June 5. A report from The Wire identified the elderly man As 72-year-old Abdul Samad.
Samad later lodged an FIR against his attackers on June 7. In his viral video on Twitter, Samad alleged that he was forced to chant the religious slogan “Jai Shri Ram” (Glory To Lord Rama) by the attackers and that his beard was forcibly cut off by the attackers.
Although Samad claimed that the attack on him was linked to his religion and hence is a hate crime, UP police have denied this stating that the assault incident was based on interpersonal matters.
The FIR states that despite a clarification issued by Ghaziabad Police, the accused did not delete their tweets, nor did Twitter make any efforts to delete them.
“It is expected that members with positions of influence in the society will try to establish the truth and use their discretion while giving out information. They [accused] have a duty towards society. In this case, the tweets were not verified which gave a communal angle of the incident despite being untrue. These tweets were done with the intent of disturbing peace in the society. The tweets not only created tension but also invoked fear among a particular community in Uttar Pradesh,” the FIR said.
The fresh FIR against Twitter comes at a time when the social media platform and the Indian government have been on loggerheads regarding the new IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules that were enacted in May.
India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today (June 16) lambasted microblogging platform Twitter for defying to comply with the country’s new controversial IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules that was enacted on May 26. Twitter hasn’t complied with many requirements under the new law, and is currently facing backlash from various politicians, and members of the ruling BJP government.
Twitter has been in a long stand-off with the Indian government over its non-compliance with the new IT Rules. Twitter had earlier voiced concerns over “the use of intimidation tactics by the police” and “potential threat to freedom of expression” by the new IT rules. The Indian government had given an ultimatum to Twitter to comply with the rules or face ‘consequences’.