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June 24, 2021

Why Twitter Restricts 50 Posts In Relation To Loni Assault Case

Twitter India has restricted 50 tweets related to the assault of an elderly Muslim man in Loni, Ghaziabad. The action was taken against Twitter due to an ongoing investigation by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police against the microblogging platform for promoting communal violence.

Since June 14, 2021, a video of the assault has been circulating on social media. According to that video, 72-year-old Abdul Samad Saifi was assaulted and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”. He said that the assailants cut his beard and made him watch the videos where other Muslims were being attacked. The Ghaziabad Police registered the complaint against Twitter on June 15, 2021. They claimed that the tweets had an alleged intent of “provoking communal unrest” in the country.

Twitter, in its statement, said, “As explained in our Country Withheld Policy, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in the response to a valid legal demand or when the content has been found to violate local laws.” They added, “The legal requests that we receive are detailed in the biannual Twitter Transparency Report, and requests to withhold content are published on Lumen.”

The Uttar Pradesh police had sent a legal notice to Twitter India’s Managing Director Manish Maheshwari on June 17, 2021 for ‘provoking communal disruption’ over posts related to the assault. The legal notice was sent to Twitter after Amit Acharya, a Delhi based lawyer, filed a Criminal Complaint about spreading fake news about the assault. The complaint targeted Swara Bhaskar, journalist Arfa Khanum, Twitter India Head Maheshwari and Md Asif Khan.

The Case:

On June 5, 2021m 72-year-old Abdul Samad Saifi was beaten up by six people and the assailants chopped off his beard. The video went viral on social media platforms. On June 7, 2021, Saifi, along with the local Samajwadi Party leader Ummed Pahalwan Idrisi, lodged an FIR. Later, he took part in a Facebook live and alleged that he was beaten and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. However, Ghaziabad Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Pathak said that in the FIR lodged by Abdul Samad on June 7, 2021, he did not make any allegation of being forced to chant Jai Shri Ram.

The police mentioned that the attack occurred because the accused were unhappy over the ‘tabeez’ (amulets) sold to them by Saifi. In turn, they ruled out any communal angle in this case. Superintendent of police Iraj Raja said four more accused — Himanshu, Anas, Shavez and Babu — have been arrested. This takes the total arrests, in this case, up to nine. The police earlier arrested Kalloo Gurjar, Parvesh Gurjar, Adil, Intezaar, Saddam, alias Bauna. All of them were accused of Abdul Samad Saifi’s attack in the Shaheed Nagar district of Ghaziabad. Saddam and Intezaar were granted bail on June 17, 2021.

Ghaziabad Police claimed that the assault took place because of personal dispute but had been portrayed in a communal manner on social media.

The police had booked Twitter, Twitter India, Alt News’ Co-founder Mohammad Zubair and their fact-checker, ‘The Washington Post’ columnist Rana Ayyub, senior journalist Saba Naqvi, digital news portal ‘The Wire’ and a few Congress leaders for “provoking communal disputes”.

Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari said he is available on video conferencing to explain the issue to the authorities. Maheshwari said that he was willing to cooperate with the police fully.

Notice by Ghaziabad Police

On June 19, 2021, Samajwadi Party leader Ummed Pahalwan was arrested by the Ghaziabad Police in connection with Loni incident. So far Ghaziabad Police has arrested 10 people are all are under interogation.

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