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Twitter Withholds Yogi's 'Muslim League Virus' Tweets, Acts Against 31 Right-wing Handles

File photo of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

File photo of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Yogi Adityanath had stepped up his attack on Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League by accusing it of 'dividing' the country and being a 'virus'.

New Delhi: Acting on the directive of the Election Commission, Twitter has withheld two controversial tweets by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath in which he referred to the Muslim League as a “green virus”.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is a long-time member of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala.

These two tweets, dated April 5, are now not visible on Adityanath's Twitter wall. A message instead reads: "This tweet from @myogiadityanath has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand." The Election Commission’s move and the action taken by Twitter has proved to be a setback for the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who has been barred from campaigning for 72 hours for his "highly provocative" or "derogatory" remarks.

The Election Commission's intervention came after the Supreme Court took note of the communal remarks made by the political leaders.

Adityanath had stepped up his attack on Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and accused it of “dividing” the country and being a “virus” soon after Rahul Gandhi decided to contest from Wayanad.

The IUML had filed a complaint against the “virus” remark on April 6 after which the Election Commission gave directions to Twitter, said a source. It also urged the EC to initiate punitive measures, including disabling of social media accounts of Adityanath.

The IUML complaint countered Adityanath’s claim, saying: "The IUML was formed in Madras on March 10, 1948 after the tragic partition of India. The party is committed to the Constitution of India and the Constitutional principles of secularism, fraternity and the unity and integrity of the nation. The IUML has no role in the partition. This has been done intentionally for creating hatred among communities which is punishable under section 153A of the IPC."

A similar action has also been initiated against union minister Giriraj Singh, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya, actress Koena Mitra, BJP youth-wing national president Harsh Sanghavi, Shiromani Akali Dal MLA MS Sirsa and former Special Forces officer Surendra Poonia. A total of 34 tweets from 31 handles have been withheld.

Most of the tweets were posted by active BJP supporters on the social media platform. These tweets alleged a connection between Pakistan and IUML's green flag, in a bid to target Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Kerala’s Wayanad constituency. Giriraj Singh had tweeted a video of a procession in which green flags were visible. His tweet was retweeted by cabinet colleague and Rahul Gandhi's rival in Amethi, Smriti Irani.

IUML leaders welcomed the move by the Election Commission. "Social media should not be misused so as to bring hatred against communities. This should act as a stern warning for others,” said Haris Biran Beeran, the advocate who heads the IUML legal team.
first published:April 17, 2019, 11:35 IST