Twitter India’s Managing Director Manish Maheshwari has filed a writ petition in Karnataka High Court challenging the police notice under Section 41A. He was summoned over posts linked to the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad.
Maheshwari was supposed to appear before the Ghaziabad Police on Thursday, but sources said he may not reach the Loni Border police station to join the probe. However, there has been no official or written communication from Twitter.
The social media giant had conveyed to the police that Maheshwari was available for questioning via video call but the cops sent fresh summons on Tuesday, asking the Twitter India MD to appear before it.
“Clarification given by you is inappropriate. Being the MD of Twitter in India, you are the representative of the company. Therefore, you are bound by the Indian law to cooperate in the investigation,” the notice sent by the police said.
Maheshwari is expected to visit at Loni Kotwali along with his lawyer at 10.30am, Hindustan Times reported.
The Ghaziabad Police is expected to quiz Maheshwari on failure to remove the controversial video which reportedly showed a Muslim man being assaulted and his beard being cut off by the accused. The man had claimed that he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Vande Mataram” though police ruled out the communal angle, saying the accused — both Hindus and Muslims — attacked the man after a dispute over amulets. The police will also ask about the number of complaints against the video and what action the micro-blogging platform has taken.
Twitter, news website wire.in, several journalists and Congress leaders were named in an FIR for allegedly “promoting enmity between religions” for posting and promoting the video.
Soon after the video went viral, UP police booked Twitter and some individuals for misinformation. “After seeing UP police’s clarification in the case, Twitter should have warned these people who posted wrong information that they should verify their facts otherwise they (Twitter) will delete those posts,” UP’s Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar told News18.
He said Loni in Ghaziabad is a communally very sensitive area. “A few months back, the neighbouring area of Delhi had witnessed a full-fledged riot. These tweets were an attempt to create animosity and communal tension,” Kumar said.
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, HC Awasthy, said the entire Loni incident had been given a spin by certain vested interests. “There was no Hindu-Muslim angle in the incident. It was a purely personal dispute. We have registered an FIR to get to the total truth of it. We will not allow such mischief to take place. This was an effort to incite communal sentiments which won’t be accepted,” the DGP said.
Awasthy said he had asked for strong action to be taken against such mischief-mongers who had created an uncalled for controversy. Kumar added the victim makes ‘tabeez’ which he sells to people and those who had assaulted him included Muslims who said they had not good results after wearing them.
The Uttar Pradesh government has become the first to book Twitter in a criminal offence after the social media company has failed to comply so far with the new IT rules that had come into effect from May 26. Social media companies have to comply with the rules to get safe harbour protection and absence of the same exposes them to become liable for fake news, harassment and defamation on its platform.
Meanwhile, at least 50 tweets in connection with the case were restricted on Monday as Twitter India withheld access to posts pertaining to the video of the alleged assault.
“As explained in our Country Withheld Policy, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in response to a valid legal demand or when the content has been found to violate local law(s). The withholdings are limited to the specific jurisdiction/country where the content is determined to be illegal. We notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account by sending a message to the email address associated with the account(s), if available,” said Twitter in a statement.