Hundreds of Indian Twitter accounts linked to news websites, activists and actors were suspended for more than 12 hours on Monday after the government said users were publishing content to incite violence.
The move comes after weeks of protests by Indian farmers against a new farm bill. The protests turned violent last week when riots were reported to police. One protester was killed and hundreds were injured, including police.
An Indian government official said the Home Ministry had demanded the suspension of “about 250 Twitter accounts” which were allegedly publishing material to escalate the violence.
Official sources said, “This order was issued against the accounts which were using the hashtag #MadMaplanningFirmerSigningSide starting January 30th.
The blocked people were silenced inside India without warning, including investigative news site Caravan India, political commentator Sanjukat Basu, activist Hansraj Meena, actor Sushant Singh, and Shashi Shekhar Vampati, chief executive of state broadcaster Prosar Bharati. And with very little explanation, the only message on their pages is that “the account has been suspended in India in response to a legal request.”
Two popular accounts linked to the farmers’ protest were also blocked: Kisan Ekta Morcha and Tractor 2 Twitter.
There is no public explanation or detail of the government’s legal demand. The accounts were still visible outside India and were restored inside the country at the end of Monday after about 12 hours offline.
Since November, tens of thousands of Indian farmers have set up a protest camp in Ghazipur on the outskirts of the capital, Delhi, demanding the repeal of agricultural laws that relax the rules on the sale, pricing and hoarding of agricultural produce. Will be found These principles have kept Indian farmers out of the free market for decades. Farmers say the reforms will leave them at the mercy of large agricultural corporations and destroy the livelihoods of millions of families.
Narendra Modi’s government has denied the allegations, saying the reforms would allow farmers to sell their produce directly to private buyers.
The protest has been the most serious challenge to the Modi government’s authority. Farmers make up half of India’s workforce.
“Statement on TwitterContent blocked from the country“Many countries have laws that may apply to tweets and the content of a Twitter account.”
If we receive a reasonable scope request from an authorized body, it may be necessary from time to time to block access to certain materials in a particular country.
It was Twitter’s policy to notify affected account holders “immediately” upon receipt of requests to suspend, unless legally prohibited to do so.
But Caravan Magazine’s editorial director Vinod Jose, who has more than 280,000 followers on his official Twitter account, told Reuters that Caravan had not received any notifications from Twitter. “It’s tantamount to censorship. The Twitter Act lists several cases of mutiny against caravan editors for covering farmers’ protests.
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