Indian Police Files Criminal Case Against Twitter For A Flawed National Map Involving Kashmir

After twitter published a map that incorrectly showed the turbulent Indian region of Kashmir as a separate country, a criminal case has been filed against the micro blogging social media site in India.

Describing the publication of the distorted map “an act of treason”, a police report was filed against Twitter’s head in India, Manish Maheshwari, in the state of Uttar Pradesh on Monday night.

This error is a very sensitive one for India. It has been decades that a separatist insurgency campaign is ongoing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir demanding independence from India. The Indian government unilaterally stripped the region of its semi-autonomous powers in August 2019 which angered many of the residents of the region.

There was a backlash against Twitter after a user flagged the map error. Twitter acted by quickly removing the map from its “tweep life” section.

Despite such prompt action, the tensions between Twitter and Indian authorities, currently engaged in a standoff on multiple fronts, was heightened further by the error.

This marked the second police case filed kin the state of Uttar Pradesh against the Twitter’s head in India within a period of just less than a month. The police had summoned Twitter’s head in India last week over activity on Twitter relating to the alleged attack of a Muslim man in the state. The police report had named high profile Indian journalists and political leaders who had also tweeted about the attack. The police report accused Twitter of publishing posts that provoked “communal sentiments”.

There was no tweet from Maheshwari himself about the attack and he was granted protection from arrest in the case by a state high court. That high court order is now being challenges in India’s Supreme Court by Uttar Pradesh police.

Twitter has been repeatedly ordered to remove tweets that are critical of government actions and policies by India’s central government, led by Narendra Modi. Some ministers severely criticised Twitter for allegedly refusing not to comply with many of the demands for the removal of tweets. Twitter’s India headquarters in the capital, Delhi was visited by police in May to serve a legal; notice to the company.

Twitter, along with other social media sites and messaging apps, has been accused by the Indian government of not completely complying with new rules that were passed by the government recently that allegedly increase state regulation and control over social media sites.

No comment on the latest police case and the publishing of the incorrect map was available from Twitter. Last month however Twitter had said that the manner in which its employees in India were being harassed and the introduction of new IT laws had pushed the company to become “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression”.

(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)

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