Twitter Refuses to Suspend Indian Accounts Accused of Inciting 'Communal Riots' by Police

© AP Photo / Manish SwarupYouth congress party workers shout slogans during a protest outside Twitter's office in New Delhi, India, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021
Youth congress party workers shout slogans during a protest outside Twitter's office in New Delhi, India, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.11.2021
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Mosques and properties of Muslims in the Indian state of Tripura were allegedly targeted by mobs last month. The attacks took place in alleged retaliation following attacks on the homes and temples of Hindus in Bangladesh, which shares a border with Tripura. Local police in Tripura have rejected claims that any mosque was ever targeted.
Twitter has said that “it strongly believes in defending and respecting the voice” of its users, as it refused to “take any action” on a notice by Indian police, which asked the microblogging company to suspend nearly 68 accounts for inciting “communal riots” between Hindus and Muslims.
Police in the north-eastern state of Tripura have charged 102 social media account holders — 68 on Twitter, 32 on Facebook and two on Youtube — under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) or federal anti-terror legislation.
Hindu right-wing groups protest over attacks against Hindus during Durga Puja festival in Dhaka, outside the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi, India, October 20, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.10.2021
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Many of the internet users have alleged that mosques were burnt down or vandalised by mobs during violence against Muslims in the state last month. On several occasions, Tripura Police have rejected these claims as “fake news”.
In a letter to Twitter’s Grievance Officer for India Jeremy Kessel on 3 November, Tripura’s West Agartala Police station cautioned that the social media posts in question could “flare up communal tensions” between Hindus and Muslims in the state, which it said could “result in communal riots”.
“It is to inform you that some persons/organisations are publishing/posting distorted and objectionable news items/statements on Twitter regarding the recent clash and the alleged attack upon mosques of Muslim communities in the state,” read the letter.
The letter also mentioned that the people behind the 68 accounts had been booked under Section 13 of the UAPA.
“In publishing these news items/posts, the persons/organisations have been found using photographs/videos of some other incidents, and fabricated statements/commentary for promoting enmity between religious groups/communities in presence of a criminal conspiracy,” it added.
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One of the Twitter accounts whose suspension is being sought belongs to journalist Shyam Meera Singh, who said on Monday that Twitter has refused to comply with the police order.
The scribe said that his tweet stating “Tripura is burning” was the reason behind him being served a notice under UAPA by Tripura Police.
Student activist Mohammad Salman also received a similar message from Twitter, after his account was also red-flagged by Tripura Police.

“They (Twitter) are not going to suspend my account at this stage,” he told Sputnik, citing the notice from the US microblogging site.

Social activist Nadeem Khan, whose name also features in the list of 68 people shared by Tripura Police, told Sputnik that he was yet to hear from Twitter.
The police action against the social media accounts comes after two lawyers based in New Delhi, namely Ansar Indori and Mukesh, were booked by the police under UAPA for participating in a “fact-finding team” to probe the events in Tripura last month.

Were Mosques Burnt Down in Tripura?

Nadeem Khan also participated at a press conference on 28 October held by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), a civil society group, which claims that violence in Tripura did indeed result in the burning of mosques.
“According to information relayed by local activists and residents, there have been at least 27 confirmed incidents of Hindutva mobs attacking the mosques, houses and individuals in Muslim areas,” the orgainsation's fact-finding report has claimed. “These include 16 incidents where mosques were vandalised and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) flags were forcibly hoisted on them. At least three mosques, Palbazar mosque in Unnakoti district, Dogra Masjid in Gomati district and Narola Tila in Vishalgarh, were set on fire”.
The findings have been rejected by the Tripura Police.
Meanwhile, a key Hindu organisation, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has blamed the activists and civil society organisations of “tarnishing” its image, as it questioned why no violence has been reported from other parts of the country.
“We held demonstrations across the country. Why was it only in Tripura that our activists have been accused of targeting mosques and Muslims?” questioned Vinod Bansal, the spokesperson of the VHP.
Bansal has also expressed support for “police action” against those spreading “rumours” and “fake news” about the burning of mosques, arguing that some “vested interests” within India are trying to sully India’s image globally.
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