COVID-19: Delhi police denies asking volunteers to take down social media posts

Many volunteers on social media who have been sharing information on COVID-19 resources in the country , said they would limit their posts while some said they would stop posting altogether alleging police intimidation.

New Delhi: The Delhi police has denied that its personnel never intimidated or asked anyone to take down their social media posts posted by volunteers trying to help COVID-19 affected people and families. The police response came after a Right to Information (RTI) petition was filed by activist Saket Gokhale on the issue.

About a month ago, several COVID-19 volunteers on social media alleged intimidation by the Delhi police, stating that they received calls from cops asking them to take down their social media posts on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. They believed that the police were acting based on oral instructions or unofficial orders from the government.

A few weeks ago, many volunteers on social media who were sharing information on COVID-19 resources in the country said they would limit their posts, while some said they would stop posting altogether alleging intimidation by the Delhi police.

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Following this, Saket Gokhale quickly filed an RTI under Sec 7(1) with Delhi Police demanding an answer and explanation after he was approached by many volunteers regarding the calls they had received. In its response to Gokhale, the police’s denied that any calls were made or requests were made to take down social media posts.

Taking to Twitter on June 3, Gokhale wrote, “If you/someone you know did receive a call from Delhi Police while doing Covid-19 volunteer work, please reach out to me with details. Based on this RTI response, any call/demand made by any police officer to volunteers was unauthorized & illegal. Action WILL be taken.”

Many of these volunteers were allegedly receiving phone from people claiming to be from the Delhi police and asked them to take down their website and all the information they had put up online regarding COVID relief.

The admin was told it’s illegal to share the numbers of suppliers, and that their list contains information about those who are hoarding and black marketing supplies of the medicines and oxygen. However, as per the law, sharing personal details of a person with the consent of the individual in question is not illegal so long as consent can be proven.

As soon as the social media was flooded with these complaints, the very next day Delhi Police tweeted denying all the allegations, calling it misinformation, and adding that it doesn’t prevent good Samaritans from doing their bit. The entire situation had lead to many volunteers backing out from posting COVID-19 related information on social media while some of them tried to do their bit on a smaller scale.

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