Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale on Friday said he will challenge the Centre’s order withholding his tweet on the Manipur unrest during the Group of 20 Summit in September.
This came after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Thursday informed him that his tweet on the ethnic violence in the northeastern state was withheld during the summit because it would have maligned the country’s global image.
Manipur has been embroiled in ethnic violence between the Kukis and the Meiteis since May 3. Over 200 people have been killed and at least 60,000 have been displaced.
On September 5, Gokhale tweeted: “On the eve of the G20 Summit, the United Nations has expressed alarm over brutal atrocities in Manipur and the inaction of the Modi Govt. Manipur continues to burn & the people there live in a literal war zone while PM Modi is busy with his self-PR.”
The tweet was posted three days before the summit on September 9 and 10.
In a letter to the legislator, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that Gokhale’s tweet had been withheld in the country under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The letter was shared by Gokhale on social media. In the letter, the ministry said that the Ministry of Home Affairs requested blocking of Gokhale’s tweet.
Section 69 of the Information Technology Act allows the Centre to issue content-blocking orders to online intermediaries if the content is deemed a threat to national security, sovereignty or public order.
“As per Ministry of Home Affairs [MHA], this is factually incorrect and found inflammatory and the contents are intended to create confusion among the public, demean national efforts in conducting the G-20 summit and to malign India’s image at international arena,” the electronics and information technology ministry said in the letter. “MHA has apprehended that it may provoke two ethnic groups of Manipur and will have adverse impact on the G20 Summit event.”
The letter also said that such tweets by political parties or their leaders could have further escalated the violence, thereby “projecting a wrong image of the nation towards ethnic minorities in the international arena”.
The ministry said that Gokhale’s tweet was restored “since there is no relevance after the event is over”.
On Friday, the Trinamool Congress leader said that his tweet was not “illegal” and had been censored solely to prevent any negative effect on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public relations during the G20 meeting. “An MP’s tweet asking Modi to intervene in Manipur was withheld to protect Modi’s ‘image’at G20,” Gokhale said in a social media post. “How is this not an undeclared emergency?”
The Opposition leader said that the Bharatiya Janata Party cannot censor the reality of violence against people and rape of women in Manipur. “I’ll be going to court against this illegal censorship of an MP done first in Parliament and now on Twitter,” Gokhale added.