18:58 GMT28 February 2021
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    Bihar State Chief Nitish Kumar has been openly critical of “disinformation on social media” and has often urged his party leaders to notice how social media has become a platform "to mislead people."

    The Nitish Kumar government in India’s Bihar state has issued a gag order to stop people “making objectionable remarks” against ministers, MPs, legislative assembly members, and government officers on social media. Anyone found “tarnishing the picture” of these individuals will be charged under the Information Technology Act. 

    Nayyar Hasnain Khan, who heads Bihar's Economic Offences wing, has issued a letter outlining the move to all the administrative secretaries of the state government.

    “Legal action will be taken towards social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram for making objectionable remarks towards a government minister, MP, MLA, or government officer. Apart from this, individuals, teams, and establishments that unfold lies and confusion will additionally come under its purview,” reads the directive.

    The order has sparked uproar in the state, which has an estimated 39.3 million internet users and over 62.1 million active mobile phones. 

    Kumar has 6.2 million followers on Twitter, more than his closest rival Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former state chief, who has 5.5 million followers. 

    The order has not gone down well with Indian netizens, with many criticising it as an attack on freedom of speech. 

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