Twitter, journalists, Congress leaders, and a news portal have been booked by the Ghaziabad police for circulating a video “which allegedly tried to create communal unrest”. The video showed an elderly Muslim man saying that he was thrashed and was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Vande Mataram’.
The FIR, lodged at Loni Border police station in Ghaziabad on Tuesday, named Twitter Inc, Twitter Communications India, news website The Wire, journalist Mohammed Zubair, who is the co-founder of Alt News, journalist Rana Ayyub, Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Masqoor Usmani, Dr. Sama Mohammad and writer Saba Naqvi. It was filed on the basis of a complaint lodged by a local policeman.
“These people did not verify the truth of the matter and shared it online with a communal angle with an intention to disrupt public peace and create a divide between religious groups,” the FIR stated.
In the video clip, which surfaced on social media on June 14, the elderly Muslim man, Abdul Shamad Saifi, is heard saying he was thrashed by some young men and asked to chant Jai Shri Ram and Vande Mataram. However, ruling out a communal angle, the Ghaziabad police said the accused were unhappy about a tabeez (amulet) he sold to them.
A police official said on Wednesday that three people — Kalloo Gurjar, Parvesh Gurjar and Adil — have been arrested for assaulting Saifi. Police are also looking for four others — Polly, Himanshu, Arif and Murshid.
The FIR against Twitter and others stated 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. Incidentally, Twitter has not yet complied with all provisions of the new digital rules of the Indian government due to which it has now lost its legal protection, which means that Twitter can face action for violating any Indian law.
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, according to the FIR. “Besides this, Twitter Inc and Twitter Communications India did not take any measures to remove their tweets,” it added.
The FIR was lodged within hours of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath exchanging critical remarks on Twitter over the incident.
On Tuesday, Rahul had said, “I am not willing to accept true devotees of Lord Ram can do such a thing.”
“Such cruelty is far removed from humanity and is shameful for both society and religion,” the former Congress chief had tweeted in Hindi tagging a news report on the Ghaziabad incident. Sharing a screenshot of Rahul’s tweet, Adityanath had said, “The first teaching of Lord Ram is speak the truth, which you have never done in your life.”
“You should be ashamed that even after the police telling the truth you are spreading poison in society. In the greed of power, (you) are shaming humanity. Stop humiliating and defaming the people of Uttar Pradesh,” Adityanath had said in a tweet in Hindi.