Ghaziabad Police files FIR against Twitter, journalists and Congress leaders for tweets over assualts of Muslim man

The Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad Police has filed an FIR against Twitter, journalists, two Congress leaders and several others in connection with the alleged assault on an elderly Muslim man on June 5, the Indian express reported.

The FIR was lodged at the Ghaziabad’s Loni Border police station around 11.30 pm on Tuesday night. Based on a complaint registered by a local policeman, it alleges that the video was shared to incite communal unrest.

A video showing an elderly Muslim man being assaulted in Ghaziabad went viral on social media. Abdul Samad, 72, was beaten up by six people and the assaulter chopped off his beard. The complainant alleged that he was forced to chant ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Jai Shri Ram’ by a mob that attacked him.

The Ghaziabad Police, in their FIR, said that there was no communal angle to the incident, where an elderly man was assaulted and his beard chopped off. “The following entities, The Wire, Rana Ayyub, Mohammad Zubair, Dr Shama Mohammed, Saba Naqvi, Maskoor Usmani, Slaman Nizami, without checking the fact, started giving communal colour to the incident on Twitter and suddenly started spreading messages to disrupt the peace and bring differences between the religious communities,” the Police added.

The Police arrested three persons and said the incident was not communal. Instead, it was a case of an old hostility and the accused alleged that the elderly man sold fake items to them.

The Police in the FIR also stated that despite Ghaziabad Police clarifying the issue, neither did the accused delete their tweets nor did Twitter make any attempts to delete them. The FIR also alleged that tweets were mot verified and it gave a communal angle of the incident.

An FIR has been registered under IPC sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion, class etc), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief), 120B (criminal conspiracy), among others.

The UP government’s move came on the backdrop of Twitter losing its legal shield in India due to its failure to appoint Key officers in line with the new IT regulations.

The social media giant lost its intermediary status and immunity from liabilities over any third-party data presented by them. Therefore Twitter will now be responsible for each content on its platform as it will be regarded as a publisher.

According to the IT Ministry official, if there is a court case in the future, Twitter would not get safe harbour under the IT Act. If registered after May 26, Twitter cannot say it is an intermediary and claim the exception. “The implication of this development is that if there is any charge against Twitter for alleged unlawful content, it would be treated as a publisher – not an intermediary – and be liable for punishment under any law, including IT Act, as also the penal laws of the country,” said the IT Ministry official.

Twitter on Tuesday night said that it had already appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer and the officer’s details will be shared directly with the IT Ministry.

The spokesperson from Twitter said that the company continues to make every attempt to comply with the new rules and keeps the IT Ministry informed of progress at every step of the process. HOWEVER, the IT Ministry said that it had not received any communication from Twitter on complying with the new regulations.

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