Twitter India MD summoned by UP Police
Twitter was booked amid disagreements between the government and the company over the new guidelines that require digital companies to change how they regulate content
The Uttar Pradesh Police have summoned Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari for questioning within seven days in connection with an allegedly misleading video showing an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad being assaulted. The firm has also been issued a second notice by the Ghaziabad police to seek “account details” of the suspects accused by the police of posting and promoting the video.
The summons was issued late on Thursday evening, two days after Twitter, news website wire.in, journalists and Congress leaders were named in a First Information Report (FIR) for allegedly “promoting enmity between religions” for posting and promoting the video amid conflicting narratives of the attack. The video purportedly showed the man being beaten up and his attackers cutting his beard.
The initial FIR in connection with the assault of the 72-year-old man was registered by the Loni border police on June 7. The attack had taken place two days earlier but the video started getting traction on social media around June 14.
The 72-year-old man’s family and friends have said the man’s attackers forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and chopped off his beard. The Uttar Pradesh Police have claimed that there was no communal angle to the attack even as a Samajwadi Party leader said that the police deliberately left out the alleged communal slogan chanting from the First Information Report filed in the case.
Akhilesh Kumar Mishra, the investigating officer in the case, said the notice was issued to Maheshwari late on Thursday evening under the regular provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and he has been asked to appear within seven days and record his statement. “The notice is served so that he appears to record statements under the CrPC’s Section 161.”
The section empowers an investigating officer to seek the appearance of any person who appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of a case.
Senior police officials supervising the case said the second notice served on Twitter was issued under Section 91 of the CrPC, which empowers the investigating officer to produce any document or any other material relevant to the case.
“In the notice we have sought account details of the suspects named in the FIR. The details include the login of sessions by the suspects and the activity taken up in connection with the video. We will also issue them notices under CrPC 160 in due course of investigation,” said Iraj Raja, superintendent of police (rural).
Officials familiar with development said that the notice was issued through the cyber-cell of the Ghaziabad police and requires production of required documents within a month.
HT reached out to Twitter on Friday, but the company declined to comment.
Officers aware of the matter said Twitter has been named in the case on charges that it did not prevent the video from going viral and allegedly helped in its promotion and circulation.
Twitter was booked amid disagreements between the government and the company over the new guidelines that require digital companies to change how they regulate content, appoint nodal officers for compliance and grievance redressal, and adopt features such as traceability of messages and voluntary user verification. They have also faced off over the government’s orders to Twitter to take down posts. Twitter has also raised concerns regarding the safety of its employees in the country and police intimidation.
The government insists that Twitter cannot seek safe harbour under the Information Technology Act and claim that it is an intermediary for posts on its platform because it has not complied with the new social media and intermediary guidelines. The guidelines came into effect on May 26.