When accessed, all the Twitter profiles merely state that the “account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand.”

A collage of Mohammad Salim Prasar Bharti CEO and Caravan logo and Twitter
news Controversy Monday, February 01, 2021 - 15:57

The official Twitter accounts of The Caravan magazine, the CEO of Prasar Bharti, as well that of the Kisan Ekta Morcha, the farmers’ body that has been organising the protests against the farm laws in Delhi, were among the many Twitter accounts that were withheld in India on Monday.

The other Twitter accounts withheld included those of CPI(M)'s Puducherry wing, writer, blogger and socio-political activist Hansraj Meena, CPI leader Mohammad Salim, actor Sushant Singh, activist Sanjukta Basu, among others. When accessed, the Twitter profiles merely state that the “account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand.”

Twitter has issued a statement, saying this action is usually taken following a “properly scoped request from an authorised entity.”

“Many countries have laws that may apply to Tweets and/or Twitter account content. In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a properly scoped request from an authorised entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time. Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content. Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we will promptly notify the affected account holders (unless we are prohibited from doing so e.g. if we receive a court order under seal). More information can be found here,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

News agency ANI reported that the Ministry of Electronics and IT directed Twitter to block around 250 Tweets/Twitter accounts which had used a particular hashtag and "making fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets on January 30.

The official account of Prasar Bharati, the government’s public service broadcaster, asked why its CEO’s Twitter account has also been withheld. “Dear @twitter @TwitterIndia could you explain the grounds for withholding CEO Prasar Bharati’s twitter handle @shashidigital in India ?” Prasar Bharati tweeted.

The account of Kisan Ekta Morcha has also been withheld. Kisan Ekta Morcha is a platform that united farmers who are protesting against the contentious farm laws passed by the Union government last year.

Vinod K Jose, the editor-in-chief of The Caravan, an investigative news magazine, tweeted that the handle was only withheld for Twitter users in India. Speaking to TNM, Vinod said there was no specific reason given on why their Twitter handle was withheld.

The Twitter account of Mohammad Asif Khan, a minority rights activist documenting cases of hate crime, was also suspended.

A parody account of Aaj Tak anchor, Anjana Om Kashyap, under the user name @AnjanaOmModi5 has also been withheld. Another parody account, @EpicRoflDon, known to be critical of the Union government, was also withheld, as was @tractor2twitr, which had been running a campaign to encourage the youth to join Twitter and support the farmer's agitation online.

The Twitter handle of a member of AAP’s national social media handle, Aarti, @aartic02, and the Twitter handle @IStandWithAAP have also been withheld. 

Here is a Twitter thread of the accounts that have been withheld: 

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