10:38 GMT25 July 2021
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    On 16 May, Twitter lost its legal protection status in India for not complying with the country’s digital rules.

    India's Minister for Information Technology (IT) Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday blasted Twitter for defying the country's rules and regulations.

    Speaking to reporters, Prasad lambasted Twitter for "lecturing" India about democratic values.

    “There are 100-crore [one billion] social media users in India, I am happy. Let them [social networking platforms] earn money, allow users to criticise us [the government]. Most welcome. But when these profit companies lecture us on democracy, then I would like to ask questions," he said, as quoted by Indian news agency ANI.

    "In India, the media questions senior ministers. That's freedom of speech and democracy. Under the garb of this, if you won't comply with rules, it's a misplaced argument," he added.

    Prasad's statement came after Twitter recently expressed concerns regarding the "threatened safety of freedom of expression" in India. 

    Twitter's statement came last week after it was served a legal notice for flagging a tweet by Sambit Patra, a national spokesperson for India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as allegedly exposing a government-defaming "Toolkit" by Congress as "manipulated media."

    Twitter, along with WhatsApp has also been locking horns with the Indian government against allowing traceability of content on their platforms.

    Minister Prasas also slammed Twitter for "hypocrisy," referring to a situation in February when the microblogging platform opposed the government's request to remove accounts that were allegedly spreading misinformation linked to the ongoing farmers protests on the outskirts of Delhi against three laws passed by Parliament.

    On 26 January, when India observed Republic Day, major violence unfolded in the capital with clashes between protesting farmers and security forces reported. Delhi's iconic Red Fort was stormed by protesters, who were then chased by cops. Several people, mostly policemen, suffered injuries. 

    The federal government, at the time, accused over 500 Twitter accounts of provoking violence. Twitter refused to suspend these accounts until it was threatened with legal action. 

    Prasad has expressed disappointment with Twitter's handling of this incident.

    "When Capitol Hill in Washington was raided, you blocked many Twitter accounts, including that of former President Donald Trump. During farmers strike, Red Fort is raided by terrorist supporters showing naked swords, injuring policemen and pushing them in ditch, then Twitter talks of freedom of expression. If Capitol Hill is US' pride, Red Fort is India's where our Prime Minister hoists the Tricolor," he said. 

    "It takes a fortnight for us to pursue you to remove it. This isn't fair," Prasad added.

    Batting in favour of the new digital rules announced in February, the federal minister said India is entitled to safeguard its digital sovereignty. 

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