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New Delhi: The cyber cell of the Mumbai police has registered a first information report (FIR) against four unidentified persons for sending death and rape threats to independent journalist Rana Ayyub on Twitter and Instagram, according to Hindustan Times.
The police action comes after Ayyub reached out to the police stating that over 26,000 abusive and objectionable tweets were sent to her Twitter handle and other social media profiles.
“The accused posted fake news about Ayyub saying that she has been banned from Saudi Arabia and the user also gave her rape threats and abused her. The offence has been registered against four Twitter and two Instagram account users on Friday,” Hindustan Times quoted a deputy commissioner of police rank officer as saying.
Taking to Twitter, Ayyub on January 25 wrote, “26.4 thousand tweets, most are abusive, rape and death threats, calling me a terror sympathiser. Most tweets are by the Indian right wing & Saudi nationalists who are attacking me after I posted a tweet in solidarity with Yemen and calling out the Saudis. Hello @TwitterIndia.”
Ayyub has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter and 3,20,000 followers on Instagram.
In another instance, on January 26, Twitter user @thescoopbeats, claiming to be an Indian media organisation, tweeted a YouTube video link with a message, “Saudi Arab Banned Rana Ayyub #RanaAyyub #SaudiArabian #banned @RanaAyyub @KingSalman Anchor @Mannusahu1319, @Vidyanshi6 Editor @Patrakar_Ayush.”
In the 10-minute long video, two young women are seen presenting a news bulletin under the title ‘Saudi Banned Rana Ayyub?’ with accompanying memes. The video garnered over 4,000 views.
In response to the video, Ayyub on Twitter claimed that the YouTube channel had spread “fake news” with a photoshopped image of her previous tweet, to claim that Ayyub hated India and all Indians. To this, the channel posted another video stating that the facts presented in its news bulletin were all correct and authentic.
The Mumbai police said that it is investigating the YouTube videos.
In response to Ayyub’s complaint, the West Region Cyber Police Station registered an FIR under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including sexual harassment, death threats, outraging modesty of women, defamation and some sections of the Information Technology Act.
Ayyub said on Monday on Twitter that it was “about time” for “brazen and consolidated acts of online violence” to be stopped and said the perpetrators should be brought to book. “Mumbai Police has registered an FIR against those who disseminated fake news, morphed tweets and death and rape threats against me.”
Continuing further, she said, “Impressed with the alacrity and co-operation of @CPMumbaiPolice @Dwalsepatil @supriya_sule @satejp @CMOMaharashtra. This bullying and assault on women need to stop. Hope the accused are brought to book soon.”
The police had already written to Twitter and Instagram for information on six Twitter and Instagram users while also initiating a probe to verify if the accused targeted other journalists or individuals on social media.