22:52 GMT28 February 2021
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    After violence gripped Delhi on 26 January as protesting farmers clashed with the security forces, the Indian government reportedly asked Twitter to block or withhold around 250 accounts. The government’s demand was aimed at preventing the spread of fake news.

    On Tuesday Twitter unblocked a number of accounts it suspended earlier this week including those belonging to pro-farmer activists and leaders, publications like the Caravan Magazine, and farmers' unions like Kisan Ekta Morcha and Tractor2twitr, among others. 

    In a meeting with Indian government officials, Twitter defended its decision to restore some blocked accounts by arguing that certain posts were newsworthy and considered “free speech.”

    “Protecting public conversation and transparency is fundamental to the work we do at Twitter, the content has been unblocked,” Indian media quoted Twitter as saying.

    The Caravan and farmers' union Kisan Ekta Morcha posted tweets to check if their accounts were up and running again. 

    Twitter blocked around 250 accounts in India upon the country’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology's (MeitY) request. The ministry underlined the accounts for using specific hashtags while tweeting about the farmers' protests – opposing three new farm laws – that have been rumbling on the borders of the capital New Delhi since November. 

    “If we receive a properly scoped request from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content. Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify the affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing so e.g. if we receive a court order under seal),” Twitter added.

    The exact number of accounts Twitter has restored in India remains unclear.

    After the violent clashes that unfolded in Delhi on India’s 72nd Republic Day on 26 January, the Delhi Police claimed over 300 Twitter handles were setup to fuel the chaos by spreading fake news and misinformation. The internet was also suspended in several parts of the city as a result. 

    Thousands of farmers marched into the capital on 26 January, violating a pact with the police, resulting in clashes.

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