New Delhi: Twitter’s recent filings with a third party database reveals that the Union ministry of information and broadcasting directed the social media platform to censor 50 tweets carrying a link to the new BBC documentary about the 2002 Gujarat communal violence citing legal grounds. The ministry cited Rule 16(3) of the IT Rules [PDF] and Section 69(A) of IT Act, 2000 to ask for removal of the posts.
Apart from Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien’s tweet, similar posts carrying a link to the documentary by activist Kavita Krishnan, journalists Ghazala Wahab and Mitali Saran, American actor John Cusack, and lawyer Prashant Bhushan were also taken down by Twitter in India on the Modi government’s request.
Twitter users who click on a link to these tweets will get a message like this:
However, the tweets are still available to Twitter users abroad or to anyone in India who logs in to the internet via a VPN:
The list of all 50 posts removed has been published by Lumen, the third party database where Twitter uploads its content removal requests.
https://twitter.com/mitalisaran/status/1615958816776138753 https://twitter.com/VijaysMusings/status/1615931737145769985 https://twitter.com/MujtabaAasif/status/1615984628195786752 https://twitter.com/BhattRohin/status/1615945058813104130 https://twitter.com/pushprajyadav23/status/1615971087363497985 https://twitter.com/Kamran_Yousaf/status/1615959394511978498 https://twitter.com/SAsiaSolidarity/status/1615637186753216512 https://twitter.com/GurpreetSSahota/status/1615939837592489984 https://twitter.com/NoorulArfin3/status/1615938392474386432 https://twitter.com/s_kanth/status/1615978037887242240 https://twitter.com/kavita_krishnan/status/1615991287383207936 https://twitter.com/derekobrienmp/status/1615893704312774656 https://twitter.com/pbhushan1/status/1615909854220279809 https://twitter.com/unnikts/status/1616006093297094656 https://twitter.com/ishtiyaque_99/status/1615977500567560193 https://twitter.com/ChekrishnaCk/status/1615958469387104258 https://twitter.com/CedricPrakash/status/1615997224751890433 https://twitter.com/SaoirseAF/status/1615921900672413697 https://twitter.com/ghazalawahab/status/1616017922513850368 https://twitter.com/RanbirS17757742/status/1615998039608668160 https://twitter.com/ghazalawahab/status/1616017922513850368
This will not be up for long.
Too many people in India might see it and be reminded of the grim and gritty reality of what happened. https://t.co/q1oK8E07AF
— JayEnAar (@GorwayGlobal) January 19, 2023
https://twitter.com/BhattRohin/status/1615945058813104130 https://twitter.com/scoutdesk/status/1615939944446586881 https://twitter.com/vijnad/status/1615971668215619586 https://twitter.com/sudheerjohn711/status/1616000395175919616 https://twitter.com/johncusack/status/1615960114816782336 https://twitter.com/sameer27038259/status/1615979840095617026 https://twitter.com/theotherhomie/status/1615939189966573568 https://twitter.com/SabkaMalikOne/status/1615962454789623810 https://twitter.com/cheguwera/status/1615934542220492804 https://twitter.com/arifayyub/status/1616016370956922880 https://twitter.com/AeroAwcs/status/1615940835690020871 https://twitter.com/aashath/status/1615989728851165186 https://twitter.com/SAsiaSolidarity/status/1616005844314857472 https://twitter.com/HurriyatJK/status/1616015049646129152 https://twitter.com/SanjaiGandhi/status/1616008467420164098 https://twitter.com/HemadriRavi/status/1615967960103026688 https://twitter.com/Tveer_13/status/1615970704494575616 https://twitter.com/johncusack/status/1616019439014617090 https://twitter.com/imcomrade/status/1615946525099843584 https://twitter.com/sidd_sharma01/status/1615926952539607041 https://twitter.com/PrgrsvIndiansNZ/status/1616015984208547845 https://twitter.com/surayviru73/status/1615973601294811136 https://twitter.com/shafique_08/status/1616007230696067075 https://twitter.com/ABBILALHASSAN/status/1615964954598821888 https://twitter.com/Ras_hmi_Tweet/status/1615990816115429377 https://twitter.com/vasantalic/status/1615934806302527489 https://twitter.com/ShrimaanAashik/status/1615932429243650050 https://twitter.com/Akhmakh_kaeshur/status/1616004251070746626
On Saturday, it came to light that the Narendra Modi government had asked both Youtube and Twitter to remove all posts carrying links to the BBC documentary. Both platforms agreed to the legal diktat issued by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting.
After the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” – which quotes a British government repot as holding Narendra Modi “directly responsible” for his complicity in the anti-Muslim violence of 2002 – was aired, the Modi government dismissed it as “propaganda”.
The external affairs ministry’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the documentary was “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative.” Bagchi alleged that the documentary lacked objectivity and was biased – a symptom of “a continuing colonial mindset.”
Following the government’s stand, the BJP and its supporters launched a campaign against the documentary on different social media platforms, targeting those who had posted its link on their handles.
As a few clips from Narendra Modi’s interview from the documentary went viral, the Centre immediately asked both Youtube and Twitter to censor the videos and tweets that the government believes shows the Indian Prime Minister in poor light.
On Saturday, a group of 302 former judges, diplomats, administrators and military officers issued a statement denouncing the BBC.