Twitter account of The Caravan magazine withheld even as punitive action against journalists covering the farmers’ protest continues

Published : February 01, 2021 18:52 IST

A screenshot of The Caravan's Twitter page, taken on February 1.

Amidst a spate of punitive action against mediapersons and organisations, the Twitter account of The Caravan magazine has been “withheld” on February 1. This information was shared by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan executive editor, in a Twitter post.

“The official handle of @thecaravanindia is withheld in India”, Jose tweeted.

The development follows the growing chorus against the government over the three contentious farm laws. In the past few days, as the government attempted to forcibly end the farmers’ agitation, Twitter witnessed pitched ideological exhortations, with several anti-government hashtags trending continually.

According to a report published in the DNA, the IT Ministry has instructed Twitter to suspend 250 accounts. The report states that the IT Ministry acted as per the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs and that the accounts were suspended immediately.

This was confirmed by the news agency ANI, which tweeted: “Incitement to genocide is a grave threat to public order & therefore the Ministry of Electronics & IT ordered for blocking of these Twitter accounts & Tweets under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. Twitter has blocked these Tweets/Twitter Accounts”.

The Delhi Police have registered a case against the publication.

When Frontline contacted The Caravan for comment, an editor said: “We have not been informed by Twitter about why our account was withheld in India. They did not email us or send any notifications to the official twitter account. It is not clear yet if the account has been withheld in any other countries. When we personally contacted twitter spokespeople, they asked us to send an official email. We know several other accounts which have covered the farmers’ agitation and the government crackdown have also been withheld. The first day of the month is very important for a monthly magazine because its when we roll out the magazine.”

A Twitter spokesperson, in an email response to The Hindu, said: “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).”

Earlier, Mandeep Punia, an independent journalist, was arrested on January 31 while he was covering the farmers’ protest in Singhu border. On January 28, the journalist Rajdeep Sardesai and Sashi Tharoor, Member of Lok Sabha, were booked for sedition.