Ghaziabad assault video: Police sends fresh summons to Twitter executives

The UP police on June 17 sent a set of summons over to the social media company over a video that went viral and seemed to show a hate crime targeting a Muslim man in Ghaziabad, and was amplified as such, but which the state’s police has subsequently claimed was not a communal incident.
The complaint against Twitter and several journalists was lodged at Loni Border police station on June 15.(HT File Photo)
The complaint against Twitter and several journalists was lodged at Loni Border police station on June 15.(HT File Photo)
Updated on Jun 22, 2021 02:18 AM IST
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ByPeeyush Khandelwal, Umar Sofi , Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad/new Delhi

Twitter’s officials have denied that they had any role to in the video of a victim of a purported hate crime going viral, and their managing director in India has offered to join the investigation over a video call, the Ghaziabad police said on Monday, while adding that it was not satisfied and has issued fresh summons.

The UP police on June 17 sent a set of summons over to the social media company over a video that went viral and seemed to show a hate crime targeting a Muslim man in Ghaziabad, and was amplified as such, but which the state’s police has subsequently claimed was not a communal incident.

“They said that they have no involvement in the issue and have no control over the issue of video going viral. They also said that they can connect to videoconferencing to us. However, we are not satisfied with their response and preparing to send them another notice under section 41 of CrPC,” said Atul Kumar Sonkar, circle office of Loni, before the new summons were issued.

HT has seen a copy of the summons, which cites Section 41a. The first notice was sent citing Section 160 of the criminal procedure code, which allows the police the ability to question any person who they believe may be aware of facts related to a complaint. Section 41a is to summon a party who is named in a complaint, which gives cops more authority to demand their presence.

The complaint against Twitter and several journalists was lodged at Loni Border police station on June 15. The people named were booked for “promoting enmity between religions” by posting and promoting the video even as conflicting narratives of the attack emerged.

The video showed a 72-year-old Muslim man being beaten up and his attackers chopping his beard. The Ghaziabad police have said the incident was not communal but a personal dispute of the victim with the suspects but the victim’s family has alleged a religion angle.

Also read | Loni case: Twitter responds to UP police notice, says available for questioning

In this connection, the Ghaziabad police have already arrested local politician Ummed Pehalwan who they say, allegedly, manipulated the video for political gains.

The Bombay High Court on Monday granted four weeks transit anticipatory bail to journalist Rana Ayyub, who was one of the people named. “She has been able to procure the transit anticipatory bail but the case stands, and she will have to reply if we send notices in connection with the case. In near future, we are preparing to send notices to the suspects in the case,” Sonkar added.

Twitter separately said that after receiving a legal request from India’s ‘law enforcement agencies’, it restricted 50 tweets concerning the Ghaziabad incident to users in India.

The news came to light after Twitter made the disclosure to the Lumen database to which it routinely discloses instances of when it has taken down content.

Twitter did not respond to requests for a comment.

While most of these tweets include the videos or the images of the beard chopping incident, there are also tweets where people were sharing the video of the victim seen narrating the purported attack.

Pavan Duggal, a senior supreme court advocate and a cyber law expert, said that while Twitter has not complied with the new IT rules, restricting these 50 tweets is a sign of acceptance in its capacity as an intermediary under section 79 of the new IT law.

“Twitter might use it to show a post facto compliance to the new IT rules’” he added.

Prsanath Sugathan, another senior advocate and internet rights expert told HT, “sharing of a true incident without any hate messaging or call for violence will not fall under content that could be taken down as per the reasonable restrictions under Art.19(2).

He added that there is also a question of whether these users were informed of the take down orders issued by the government. “They were to at least be allowed a chance to challenge it”.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021