The managing director of Twitter in India, Manish Maheshwari, was questioned by Delhi Police last month in the case involving an alleged “Congress toolkit”, sources said on Thursday. A team of the Delhi Police Special Cell was in Bengaluru on May 31 to question Maheshwari, news agency ANI reported.
The development came a week after Delhi Police teams went to Twitter’s offices in Delhi and Gurugram to follow up on two notices over BJP leader Sambit Patra’s tweet on an alleged “Congress toolkit” being marked as “manipulated media”.
Twitter had been asked to explain why BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s tweet on May 18, which had screenshots of what he called a “Congress toolkit” aimed at discrediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government’s handling of Covid, were labelled “manipulated media”.
The details come at a time Twitter faces charges of inciting communal hate over tweets on an assault on a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad on June 5. In the case filed on Tuesday night, Twitter has been accused of not removing “misleading” content linked to the incident. The charges it faces include “intent to a riot, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy”.
In a viral video, the man, Sufi Abdul Samad, had alleged that his beard was cut off and he was forced to chant “Vande Matram” and “Jai Shri Ram” by a group that assaulted him. The UP police, however, denied a communal angle in the incident, saying the man was attacked by six people — Hindus and Muslims – who were angry with him for allegedly selling fake amulets. The police FIR charges Twitter, several journalists and Congress leaders for inciting “communal sentiments” with posts sharing the man’s allegations.
After not being able to appoint statutory officers on time, Twitter has lost the coveted “safe harbour” immunity in India. The company’s top executives, including the country managing director, could now face police questioning and criminal liability over ‘unlawful’ and ‘inflammatory’ content posted on the platform by any user.
With this, Twitter becomes the only American platform to have lost the protective shield – granted under Section 79 of the IT Act, even though others such as, YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp and remain protected.