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Punjab Crackdown: Here Are All 122 Twitter Accounts Blocked Upon Govt Request

Platforms like Twitter are legally required to comply with government requests – but they are kept confidential.

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A total of 122 Twitter accounts were 'withheld' at the request of the Indian government amid a crackdown on pro-Khalistan outfit Waris Punjab De and its chief Amritpal Singh in Punjab.

The government requested Twitter to take action against these accounts on Sunday, 19 March, according to the tech company's disclosure to the Lumen Database. Several tweets were also flagged by the government on the same day.

Twitter's disclosure clears up two things:

  • The request to restrict access to 122 Twitter accounts in India was made by the Centre

  • The request was made under the Information Technology Act, 2000

While the specific legal provision used by the Centre has not been mentioned, Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, gives it the "power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource."

Why it matters: The Indian government's requests to take action against content are strictly confidential, as per the Blocking Rules, 2009. This means that a user's account or tweets can be taken down without saying exactly why.

What if Twitter says no? The platform could be in serious trouble if it doesn't comply with the government's request to take action against certain content. "The intermediary who fails to comply with the direction issued under sub-section (1) shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine," Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, reads.

However, Twitter legally challenged some of the government's block orders on tweets and accounts last year. The court proceedings are still ongoing.

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  1. Full List of Twitter Accounts Withheld

    Canadian politicians Jagmeet Singh and Gurratan Singh, poet Rupi Kaur, voluntary organisation United Sikhs, MP from Sangrur Simranjit Singh Mann, civil society organisation Khalra Mission, US-based author Pieter Friedrich are some prominent voices whose Twitter accounts were withheld. Action was also taken against the accounts of a number of Punjab-based journalists. Many of these handles are not connected to Waris Punjab De.

    1. @bhavjitsingh_

    2. @GurratanSingh

    3. @theJagmeetSingh

    4. @BCSikhs

    5. @WorldSikhOrg

    6. @unitedsikhs

    7. @azzzz12351

    8. @pslyllpur

    9. @rupikaur_

    10. @jassa84

    11. @FriedrichPieter

    12. @AnandpurTimes

    13. @dilbagbal78

    14. @jindisinghka

    15. @NoahV94242580

    16. @PunYaab

    17. @AnandpurTime

    18. @aarondeep_bains

    19. @JaskaranSandhu_

    20. @satwantgrewal84

    21. @BaazNewsOrg

    22. @dosanjh47

    23. @Gurmukhpanjab

    24. @Sukhmander47

    25. @sarrohhii

    26. @JasR310

    27. @SikhHumanRight

    28. @SinghIsKing2021

    29. @simkhundal

    30. @Gagan4344

    31. @chouhan_jasmeet

    32. @RodeLakhveer

    33. @akaalkepujari

    34. @voiceofsikhs_

    35. @Sandeep99712694

    36. @unmasking_india

    37. @nicky_kaurr

    38. @singh__baagi

    39. @The_rebal55

    40. @papalpreetsingh

    41. @kamalsinghbrar

    42. @RamanGill66

    43. @PBX1Foreva

    44. @Raven_XLNC

    45. @cutenes32205940

    46. @Singh_Manjit21

    47. @kaurk5332

    48. @J0krWithFarmers

    49. @pb65ss

    50. @MaanGuri01

    51. @dilsandhu45

    52. @H1984__

    53. @Gurpreetsyngh94

    54. @HoneySinghJot1

    55. @ekamsidhu1984

    56. @jeet05149151

    57. @Jang_e_Khalsa

    58. @panth_punjab

    59. @Amandee97662550

    60. @exile1849

    61. @evolcisum04

    62. @deshpunjab1984

    63. @aflooshar

    64. @navrupkaur

    65. @PBX1_ChelseaFC

    66. @dr__amar_singh

    67. @Harjot_SD

    68. @igurditsandhu

    69. @harrysimran00

    70. @babbxr47

    71. @Varinder5229

    72. @Amandeep1900

    73. @TejpalVirk96

    74. @MikeGillYYC

    75. @725Kamal

    76. @jotkaur___

    77. @_Prabhjeet_7

    78. @Simar15Kaur

    79. @VirkKaranjot

    80. @iSinghJaswinder

    81. @GBassian

    82. @MandeepWkd

    83. @juzar__singh

    84. @Pb11wale04

    85. @ManjitK16046908

    86. @HarmanMalla

    87. @punjaban025

    88. @GaganGrewal07

    89. @Mr_Sidhu77

    90. @erkhalsa

    91. @lovelykundlas

    92. @Inder_sangowal

    93. @simran2613

    94. @bh99_kh

    95. @khalisbyblood

    96. @singh_rising

    97. @jasrajput84

    98. @Manrajmannk1

    99. @singhtejinder

    100. @Sharan398987812

    101. @Harprit97473725

    102. @palminder1990

    103. @DeepKaurPanjab

    104. @Singh89mannan

    105. @Kaur_Deep84

    106. @anandpur84

    107. @UppalRajpreet

    108. @gladiator1127

    109. @simerje51535253

    110. @Harmanp48932415

    111. @Lakhwidersaini

    112. @AzBaaz2

    113. @khalramission

    114. @IlhmJcZu5R4O8jl

    115. @Jagroopjohal_

    116. @raz_kaur_md

    117. @JessKaur_1

    118. @lovemahal26

    119. @gurpalsinghd

    120. @patshahidawa

    121. @Blessed1699

    122. @Simranj88503774

    Ten more handles were similarly requested to be withheld on Wednesday, 22 March:

    1. https://twitter.com/psgazi

    2. https://twitter.com/harrysimran00

    3. https://twitter.com/babbxr47

    4. https://twitter.com/Amandeep190

    5. https://twitter.com/BaljitSinghRa12

    6. https://twitter.com/itsBrarBaby

    7. https://twitter.com/modhaliwal

    8. https://twitter.com/SahotaSurrey

    9. https://twitter.com/sarkarekhalsa1

    10. https://twitter.com/khalsapardeep

    Expand

What's Happening in Punjab? 

The Punjab Police are on the lookout for Amritpal Singh, after cases of alleged hate speech were filed against him and his supporters last week.

Singh had led a massive protest against the Punjab Police a few weeks ago after the detention of his key aide Lovepreet Singh. His supporters had allegedly broken through barricades and barged into the Ajnala Police Station. Lovepreet was later released citing lack of evidence.

Since Sunday, over 112 people have been arrested by the police while four of Singh's aides have also been booked and taken to Dibrugarh in Assam. The next day, Amritpal Singh's uncle and driver also surrendered to the police.

As part of the statewide crackdown on Waris Punjab De, internet and SMS services were shut down in Punjab. While it has reportedly been lifted in some areas, the blackout continues in others parts of the state, according to SFLC's internet shutdown tracker.

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