Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari is available for questioning via video call, the social media giant has conveyed to UP Police informally, days after a legal notice was sent to him over posts linked to the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad.
Maheshwari was asked to report to a police station at Loni Border near Delhi last week and record his statement within seven days. The firm has also been issued a second notice by the Ghaziabad police to seek “account details” of the suspects accused by the police of posting and promoting the video.
Twitter, news website wire.in, several journalists and Congress leaders were named in an FIR for allegedly “promoting enmity between religions” for posting and promoting a video which purportedly showed the elderly man being beaten up and his attackers cutting his beard.
The man had claimed that he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Vande Mataram” though police ruled out the communal angle, saying the accused — both Hindus and Muslims — attacked the man after a dispute over amulets.
The viral video created ripples across the country, with several factions condemning the alleged communal attack. The man had publicly alleged that the attackers offered him an auto ride, took him to an isolated spot, brutally beat him up, and forced him to chant Jai Shri Ram.
Soon after the video went viral, UP police booked Twitter and some individuals for misinformation. “After seeing UP police’s clarification in the case, Twitter should have warned these people who posted wrong information that they should verify their facts otherwise they (Twitter) will delete those posts,” UP’s Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar told News18.
He said Loni in Ghaziabad is a communally very sensitive area. “A few months back, the neighbouring area of Delhi had witnessed a full-fledged riot. These tweets were an attempt to create animosity and communal tension,” Kumar said.
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, H.C. Awasthy, said the entire Loni incident had been given a spin by certain vested interests. “There was no Hindu-Muslim angle in the incident. It was a purely personal dispute. We have registered an FIR to get to the total truth of it. We will not allow such mischief to take place. This was an effort to incite communal sentiments which won’t be accepted,” the DGP said.
Awasthy said he had asked for strong action to be taken against such mischief-mongers who had created an uncalled for controversy. Kumar added the victim makes ‘tabeez’ which he sells to people and those who had assaulted him included Muslims who said they had not good results after wearing them.
The Uttar Pradesh government has become the first to book Twitter in a criminal offence after the social media company has failed to comply so far with the new IT rules that had come into effect from May 26. Social media companies have to comply with the rules to get safe harbour protection and absence of the same exposes them to become liable for fake news, harassment and defamation on its platform.