Twitter has withheld multiple accounts, including the official twitter account of The Caravan magazine in India. Twitter says that these accounts have been withheld “in response to a legal demand.”
According to the microblogging site, when such a message is displayed, it means “Twitter was compelled to withhold the entire account specified (e.g., @username) in response to a valid legal demand, such as a court order.”
The other accounts that have been withheld include that of actor Sushant Singh of the Savdhaan India fame; founder of Tribal Army Hansraj Meena, and accounts of many other individuals. It has also withheld handles of pro-farmer accounts of @Tractor2twitr, and @Kisanektamorcha.
The account of Prasar Bharati’s CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati’s Twitter account was also withheld.
India’s public service broadcaster has now sought clarification from Twitter.
In a tweet, Prasar Bharti wrote, “Dear @twitter @TwitterIndia could you explain the grounds for witholding CEO Prasar Bharati’s twitter handle @shashidigital in India?”
Though the exact reasons of the “legal demand” are not known yet, however, many point out to a common factor that could possibly be the reason behind this censorship. All these accounts have been questioning and criticizing the BJP government over the controversial farm laws.
Interestingly, the Delhi Police have also registered an FIR against The Caravan magazine for allegedly spreading false information over the death of the farmer who was found dead during the Republic Day violence.
Soon after Caravan’s executive editor, Vinod K Jose took to his Twitter and shared the screengrab of the notice, Twitter faced a backlash from several users, mostly journalists.
Caravan journalist Shahid Tantray said that the present BJP regime is stooping to new lows now. “For the last couple of days we were receiving love letters (FIRs) because of our journalism from states ruled by BJP. This regime is stooping to new lows now – our official Twitter account @ThecaravanIndia is withheld,” he wrote.
Many other journalists believe that this is part of a well-planned strategy to curb freedom of press.
“We are yet to hear more about this “legal demand”. But make no mistake — this is part of an all-round assault on the freedom (and duty) of the press to give voice to the people and not just report the government’s version of events,” wrote Supriya Sharma, executive editor of the Scroll.
Another journalist Anna MM Vetticad wrote, “Caravan is being punished for practising journalism as it should be practised, by asking questions and keeping those in power on their toes as every good journalist should.”