Twitter blocked a large number of accounts on Monday, as per the Indian government’s directives, alleging that the accounts, belonging to prominent magazines and protest advocators, could give rise to a “grave threat to public order”, revealed the AFP news agency.
The official Twitter account of Caravan, an India based journal on politics and culture, was suspended on Monday. Kisan Ekta Morcha, an account centered around the provision of daily updates on the farmers protest in India was also suspended, along with over 250 more accounts.
However, following the social media giant’s massive string of suspensions, it gradually began restoring the accounts. Twitter alleges that its actions were based on a request directed by the Hindu nationalist government. All suspended accounts were known to be overt or in some cases, covert critics of the the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party and especially of the party’s new farm laws.
A Twitter user drew a thread to keep track of withheld accounts.
This development comes just days after a large cohort of senior Indian journalists were charged with sedition for their ‘provocative’ reporting on the farmers protest. Complaints filed by residents of various states in India alleged that journalists were responsible for instigating violence during the Republic Day protests by spreading disinformation and fake news.
Cases had been filed against prominent journalists including Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today, and Vinod Jose of Caravan magazine among a plethora of others.
On India’s Republic Day, thousands of Indian farmers began pouring into the capital in an attempt to revert Prime Minister Modi’s new farm laws. January 26, 2021 marked over 60 days of the ongoing protests, as farmers mobilized their tractors to revolt against the government’s deregulations plans. Several Indians have been raging against the protesting farmers after the Red Fort incident, which saw the previously peaceful protesting farmers, storm the Red Fort and hoist the Khalsa flag called the Nishan Sahib (Sikh religious symbol) from its ramparts.
Farmer unions have held eleven rounds of talks with the central government so far, but all have been futile. Modi’s administration had previously offered to temporarily suspend the new laws but the farmers state they will settle for nothing short of complete revocation.