NEW DELHI: Twitter blocked dozens of accounts in India on Monday, including that of a leading newsmagazine, on the demand of India’s BJP government on grounds that the “users were posting content aiming to incite violence”, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months, demanding the withdrawal of new agricultural laws that they say benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.
The official handle of @thecaravanindia is withheld in India: pic.twitter.com/2t4FV5IgM0
A government official said the Home Affairs Ministry had demanded the suspension of “close to 250 Twitter accounts” that were allegedly posting content that sought to foment violence.
“The order was issued against accounts that were using the hashtag #modiplanningfarmersgenocide that started on Jan. 30,” the government source said.
“Genocide incitement is a public offence and a great threat to public order,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to publicly discuss the matter.Twitter said it complies with official orders, as required.
The Twitter account of The Caravan, India’s leading investigative journalism magazine, has been withheld in India by Twitter “in response to a legal demand.” A source said that Twitter did not inform the magazine about the action. pic.twitter.com/mW4EcaMaeM
“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,” a Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement.
She added that Twitter policy is to “promptly” notify the holders of the affected accounts when it receives requests to withhold them, unless it is prohibited from doing so.
Vinod Jose, editorial director of The Caravan magazine, whose official Twitter account had a following of more than 280,000 and had tweeted reporting on the farmers’ protests, was also blocked along with the accounts of many farm leaders and protest supporters.
Jose told Reuters that Caravan had received no word from Twitter on the account suspension. “This is akin to censorship. Twitter’s act follows multiple cases of sedition filed against Caravan editors for covering the farmers protests,” he said.
The suspended accounts include popular reports by agitating farmers keen to build public momentum for their campaign.