Bisada lynching: UP asks Twitter to act on ‘objectionable’ posts

  • Saurabh Trivedi, Hindustan Times, Greater Noida
  • Updated: Oct 06, 2015 12:30 IST
Relatives of Mohammad Akhlaq mourn after he was killed by a mob on Monday night, at his residence in Dadri town, in Uttar Pradesh, September 29, 2015. (REUTERS)

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh have asked Twitter to remove “objectionable” material regarding the lynching of a man in Bisada over rumours that he slaughtered a cow even as police stepped up efforts to trace people behind controversial posts on the micro-blogging site.

The administration of Gautam Budh Nagar district wrote to Twitter India on Monday to keep tabs on all handles that post objectionable material and block them immediately. The authorities also sought a list of such accounts from Twitter, officials said.

A spokesperson for Twitter said it had received a communication from the authorities but did not give details.

“We do not comment on individual accounts. We have a proper process for law enforcement authorities seeking information about Twitter accounts...and law enforcement requests can be submitted via this form,” the spokesperson said.

Read | Fresh carcasses threaten peace in Dadri, Bisada still tense

Twitter’s guidelines state non-public information about users will be released to law enforcement only in response to a court order or in response to a “valid emergency request”.

A man was arrested for spreading rumours about cow slaughter and police have stepped up efforts to trace Twitter users who posted material and images that could incite hatred in the area, officials said.

Security agencies will trace the IP address of Twitter handles posting hate material and take punitive action against people “trying to harm peace”, they said.

“The extensive use of technology to propagate hate messages suggests that extensive planning has been done to distort communal harmony in the city. A man from Badalpur village has been arrested for spreading rumours of cow slaughter when a man in the village was dumping his cow that died after prolonged illness,” said NP Singh, the district magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar.

Police have focussed on two Twitter handles –@anujkg25 and another registered in the name of a woman – for posting objectionable material.

The cyber cell of Noida police is tracing the IP address of the Twitter handle registered in the name of a woman that has more than 10,000 followers and has been continuously posting images and text on the Bisada incident. “It may be a fake account created by a man to spread hate,” said a senior police official.

Read | Dadri lynching triggers political storm: Who said what

Police are also trying to track the person behind the Twitter handle @anujkg25 that posted objectionable comments and images. Police have taken the help of ethical hackers to trace the person because he is using an onion router to disguise his identity.

An FIR was filed at Noida’s Sector 20 police station on Friday against @anujkg25 for making communal posts.

Senior superintendent of police Kiran Sivakumar said cyber experts had tried tracing the Twitter handle’s IP address but failed because it changed automatically after a few hours. Investigators have zeroed in on an engineering student believed to be operating from a location in Noida.

“We are taking help of ethical hackers to trace the accused. The Twitter handle is operated through the onion router that helps the handler to disguise his identity with multiple IP addresses,” Sivakumar said.

The person’s modus operandi is similar to that adopted by terror groups when they send email messages claiming responsibility for attacks, he added.

Authorities cracked down on the use of social media to spread hate messages after a directive from chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who has sought strict action against people creating disharmony and inciting hatred through Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

In an incident that drew nationwide outrage, 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish critically injured when a mob broke into their home in Bisada last week, accusing them of butchering a calf and eating beef.

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