Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is under fire over the recent directive against offensive social media posts.(HT_PRINT)
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is under fire over the recent directive against offensive social media posts.(HT_PRINT)

‘Talibani’: Opposition slams Nitish Kumar over order against offensive posts

  • A directive by the Bihar police said it was imperative that appropriate action should be taken against persons putting social media posts having offensive or abusive tenor.
By Avinash Kumar | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Patna
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 04:18 PM IST

Opposition in Bihar has launched an offensive against the Nitish Kumar government after the state police issued a directive to treat offensive or objectionable comments against the government, ministers, MPs, MLAs, posted on social media/internet, as cyber crime.

The opposition parties led by the RJD have termed the directive, issued on Thursday by the additional director general (ADG), economic offenses unit (EoU), Nayyar Husnain Khan, a grave violation of the right to freedom of speech.

In the letter issued by ADG, EoU to all principal secretaries/secretaries, it has been mentioned that there are rising complaints about the growing trend of putting objectionable/ slanderous and offensive posts in the social media platforms against government officials, MPs, MLAs and ministers.

“Such acts are against the law and come under the category of cyber crime. It is imperative that appropriate action is taken against such acts and persons putting posts having offensive/ abusive tenor. So, it is requested that on information of any such offensive posts in the social media, the EOU is informed so that an inquiry is made and necessary action as per law is taken,” the ADG has written in the letter.

Talking to an electronic channel, the ADG (EOU) said the trend had taken serious proportions. “Just because action is not being taken against those responsible for objectionable posts, the trend has grown in the social media in recent times. The EOU will conduct inquiry into such complaints and initiate action under the I-T act and provisions of the Indian Penal Code against those indulging in such acts,” he said.

Asked if the directive appeared to be putting restrictions on free speech, he said police would initiate action only as per law.

The Opposition has alleged that the state government led by CM Nitish Kumar was aiming to suppress freedom of speech as it was rattled by growing criticism over law and order situation and its failures.

Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav dared the CM to arrest him under the new directive and accused Kumar of promoting corruption and patronising criminals, He also alleged that the Bihar police was involved in the illegal sale of liquor.

“I dare the chief minister to arrest me for these accusations under the new directive,” he said.

RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha said the directive by the EOU reflected how Bihar had become a ‘talibani’ state and people would never tolerate such arbitrary action.

“This is a tuglaqi farman (a reference to Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, a sultan of Tughlaq dynasty infamous for his whims). It means that the police would now put anybody in jail or harass a person if he is critical of the government or put posts highlighting the failure of the government. This is nothing but an attempt to suppress free speech and gag the peoples’ voice. This directive has to be withdrawn immediately,” he said.

Congress senior leader and MLC Premchand Mishra said the directive only showed that the state government was scared of criticism and called it unacceptable and a violation of right to freedom of speech.

Also Read: Bihar sand mafia attacks NHAI toll plaza staff for stopping overloaded trucks

However, the ruling JD(U) and BJP have defended the decision claiming it would help in checking abusive and objectionable posts against the government and officials that flood social media, putting state officials and people’s representatives in bad light.

“It is a good step, as these days, one can notice how people put objectionable and offensive posts against government officials and others on social media. This is wrong and needs to be checked,” said deputy chief minister Tarkishore Prasad.

JD (U) senior leaders, former minister Neeraj Kumar and state spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan, too, defended the directive, saying it would deter unscrupulous elements from putting objectionable posts.

A senior IPS officer however asked if the same directive will be applied evenly to check abusive posts against commoners as well.

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