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UP police send notice to Twitter India Head over assault video: Report

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh Police has sent a legal notice to Twitter’s India head for “provoking communal unrest” in the case involving an assault on a Muslim man in Ghaziabad earlier this month.

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Manish Maheshwari, Managing Director of Twitter in India, has been asked to report to a police station at Loni Border near Delhi and record his statement within seven days, news agency ANI reported on Friday.

“Some people used their Twitter handle as a tool to spread hatred in the society and Twitter Communication India and Twitter Inc did not take any action against it. They let the anti-social messages go viral,” the notice sent to Mr Maheshwari read.

A Parliamentary panel has called on Twitter to appear before it in Parliament Complex today at 4 pm and give representation on how to prevent misuse of social media and online news.

Mr Maheshwari was earlier questioned by a Delhi Police team in connection with the “Congress toolkit” controversy. The police travelled to Bengaluru to question him after serving notices and visiting Twitter’s offices in Delhi and Gurgaon.

The legal notice comes just days after Twitter, several journalists and Congress leaders were named in an FIR (first information report) in Ghaziabad over tweets sharing a video of the assault that took place on June 5.

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The man, Sufi Abdul Samad, had alleged that his beard was cut off and he was forced to chant “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Shri Ram” by a group that assaulted him. UP Police say there was nothing communal about the incident; the man was attacked by six people — Hindus and Muslims – who were angry with him for allegedly selling fake good luck charms.

Abdul Samad’s family has denied police’s claims. “The police is wrong in saying that my father used to sell ‘tabeez’. No one in our family does this business. We are carpenters. The police are not saying the right thing – let them investigate and prove it,” said Babloo Saifi, Abdul Samad’s son.

The FIR against Twitter and eight others lists charges like provocation for rioting, promoting enmity between different groups, acts intended to outrage religious feelings, mischief and criminal conspiracy.

This is the first case against the social media giant after the government’s new rules for online news publishing platforms came into effect on May 26. The microblogging site “has lost the legal shield”, sources in the government said, “as it failed to comply with the new IT rules” that require it to appoint key India-based officers. But on record, the government has not clarified whether Twitter has lost its intermediary status, which gives it immunity from third party content.

Yesterday, a second complaint was filed in Delhi, naming Twitter and actor Swara Bhasker among others, over “inflammatory tweets” on the assault on the Muslim man in Ghaziabad.

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