Several leaders slammed the Prime Minister Modi regime, calling it a ‘dictatorship’ in response to the notice issued by Twitter to popular cartoonist Manjul. The political cartoonist was intimated by Twitter on 4 June that it had received a legal request from Indian law enforcement to take action against his social media account.
The cartoonist on Friday shared the e-mail he had received from the company with the caption, “Jai ho Modi Ji ki sarkar ki!” He also said it would have been better if the government mentioned, which tweet of his had caused a problem.
The government has alleged that one of his tweets “violates the law(s) of India”.
Twitter’s statement mentioned that they have not taken any action on the reported content [@Manjultoons].
The social media giant suggested that the cartoonist seek legal counsel and challenge the government’s request in court, or contact civil society organisations for finding a resolution or voluntarily delete the content.
The cartoonist has posted several illustrations criticising the Centre’s handling of the COVID outbreak, exposing the grim reality of the devastating second wave of the pandemic, and how several people did not have access to healthcare.
Manjul occasionally posts illustrations based on comments from readers and urges people to help COVID patients.
Manjul had even posted illustrations on the clash between Twitter and the Modi government over an alleged Congress document.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had on 18 May alleged that Congress had created a “toolkit” or campaign material to tarnish the reputation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the centre’s handling of the pandemic. Patra’s post was later tagged as “manipulated media” by Twitter.
The Delhi Police then visited Twitter India’s Delhi and Gurgaon offices to ostensibly serve the social media platform a notice in the case.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he was in absolute ‘disbelief’ when he came across the news.
Many condemned the Centre for attacking a cartoonist for “voicing opposition to the government’s policies”.
The Congress Toolkit Controversy
In April, 52 tweets had been taken down by the social media giant, following orders from the government that claimed they were spreading ‘fake news’. It was found that most of the tweets were criticising the government for its handling of the health crisis, shortages of hospital beds, oxygen, medicines and vaccines.
Several posts by Congress leaders Pawan Khera, Revanth Reddy, West Bengal minister Moloy Ghatak, actor Vineet Kumar Singh, filmmakers Vinod Kapri and Avinash Das had also been blocked.
The latest move comes at a time when the centre has already issued a set of rules, under the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, to regulate social media companies, bringing digital content under the ambit of government supervision.
The regulations also direct social media platforms to help identify the “originator” of messages upon the government’s request.