The Ghaziabad Police have sent a legal notice to Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari in a case related to the assault of an elderly Muslim man in the Uttar Pradesh district, ANI reported on Friday.
The notice, dated June 17, directed Maheshwari to appear at the Loni border police station within seven days to record his statement.
“Twitter Communication India and Twitter Inc did not take cognisance of users who used their [Twitter] handles to post messages which spread hatred and enmity among communities,” the notice stated. “The anti-social messages were allowed to go viral.”
The matter so far
The case relates to a video depicting 72-year-old Abdul Samad Saifi saying that he had been abducted in an autorickshaw by several men and locked up in a secluded house. Saifi alleged he was assaulted and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”. He also said the assailants cut his beard and made him watch videos of other Muslims being attacked.
Though the alleged assault took place on June 5, the video of the attack and of Saifi narrating the incident was circulated widely on social media on June 14.
However, the Ghaziabad Police, which registered a case based on Saifi’s complaint, on June 15 claimed that there was no communal angle to the assault. The police added that both Hindus and Muslims were among the accused who beat up the elderly man. Saifi, they said, had been beaten up because an amulet he gave one of the assailants had an adverse effect on them.
On Tuesday, the police filed a case over tweets posted by The Wire, journalists Rana Ayyub, Saba Naqvi and Mohammad Zubair and Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Masqoor Usmani and Sama Mohammad. This FIR also mentioned Twitter. The FIR, lodged by a police officer, alleged that they had put out tweets with the intention of stoking communal unrest. The FIR stated that despite a clarification being put out, ruling out any communal angle, the users did not delete their posts and Twitter took no action to remove them.
The Delhi Police had on Thursday said that they have received a complaint against actor Swara Bhasker, Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari and The Wire senior editor Arfa Khanum Sherwani and others for tweeting about the assault.
Meanwhile, the Ghaziabad Police on Thursday arrested four more people in connection with the case. A total of nine people have so far been held, the Mint reported, quoting Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad (Rural) Iraj Raja.
Why has Twitter been booked?
On Wednesday, Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Twitter has been booked in the case as it failed to comply with the Centre’s new social media rules. His comments came amid reports that Twitter had lost its “intermediary status” due to non-compliance of the rules.
However, Prasad, did not directly confirm or deny if Twitter had indeed lost its intermediary status.
“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision,” he had said. “However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the intermediary guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May.”
Experts dealing with laws related to the internet, however, suggested that the new rules do not contain any power or process for grant or revocation of an intermediary status of social media platforms or other websites.