Manish Maheshwari had been issued a summons by the Ghaziabad police to join the probe into the circulation of a video clip of an elderly Muslim man being attacked.

Twitter India MD summoned by UP cops in Ghaziabad video case moves HC
news Court Thursday, June 24, 2021 - 14:44

The Managing Director of Twitter India, Manish Maheshwari, has moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the summons issued to him in connection with Ghaziabad policeā€™s probe into the circulation of a communally sensitive video clip of an elderly Muslim man being attacked. Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari, who lives in Bengaluru in Karnataka, was issued a notice by the Ghaziabad police on June 17 and asked to report at its Loni Border police station, at 10.30 am on June 24, to get his statement recorded in the case. However, Twitter officials did not reach the police station on Thursday.

According to reports, Maheshwari filed the petition challenging the Section 41A CrPC notice (notice for appearance before a police officer) issued to him by the Ghaziabad police on June 23. He had earlier responded to the Ghaziabad police summons, offering to join the probe via video call for the time being. The Ghaziabad police were told that the information for the probe sought by it does not pertain to Twitter India but to Twitter Inc, the global head office. 

The Ghaziabad police has so far issued notices to Twitter India and news website The Wire in the case in which journalists Mohammed Zubair, Rana Ayyub, Saba Naqvi, Congress politicians Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani and Shama Mohamed have also been accused of sharing the video with an intention to provoke communal unrest. The journalists had made it clear that they had only shared the victim's version. Rana Ayyub had also moved the Bombay High Court with a transit anticipatory bail application, and the court granted her protection from arrest for four weeks. Mohammed Zubair has also moved the Karnataka High Court with pre-arrest bail, and the court has issued notice in the case.

In the viral video clip, which surfaced on social media on June 14, an elderly Muslim man identified as Abdul Shamad Saifi purportedly says he was thrashed by some young men and asked to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. The Ghaziabad police, however, has ruled out a communal angle and said that the incident was a result of personal enmity as the accused were unhappy about a 'tabeez' (amulet) Saifi had sold to them. His family, meanwhile, has denied the police version.

The FIR filed against Twitter and others states that the Ghaziabad police had issued a clarification statement with facts of the incident but despite that, the accused did not remove the video from their Twitter handles. The police had also clarified that those who attacked Saifi included Hindu as well as Muslim men and the incident was a result of personal issues between them and not communal, it said.

"Besides this, Twitter Inc and Twitter Communications India did not take any measures to remove their tweets," it added. So far, 10 people allegedly involved in the attack on Saifi have been arrested over the FIR that was lodged on June 7 after his complaint, two days after the incident, the police said. Local Samajwadi Party worker Ummaid Pehelwan Idrisi has also been arrested after a separate FIR was lodged against him for allegedly circulating the video clip of Saifi through his Facebook account by giving it a communal colour, the police added.

The Editors Guild of India and the Mumbai Press Club have condemned the FIRs filed against journalists. The Editors Guild issued a statement saying that it condemns the "wanton misuse of laws to criminalize reporting and dissent to harass independent media" and demanded that the FIRs be withdrawn immediately. "...it is quite evident that the police has been discriminatory in targeting those media organizations and journalists when thousands had tweeted the video- that have been critical of the government and it's policies," the Guild said. The Wire issued a statement on the FIR filed against it, calling it "an attempt to criminalise the reporting of anything other than the official version of events."

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