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Tripura police targeted Twitter handles of Govt critics & activists: Report

Tripura police targeted Twitter handles of Govt critics & activists: Report

Agartala: The Tripura Police's crackdown, invoking the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sections of the Indian Penal Code, targeted critics of BJP, its leaders, and lawyers who demanded a probe into alleged attacks on the minority community in Tripura, The Indian Express reported.

The police had asked Twitter to block 68 handles and provide their user details. After two weeks, 24 profiles have been taken down while 57 tweets were no longer available on the platform, including 23 withheld in India stating 'legal demand'. Many of the profiles were critical of BJP, its leaders and their ideology.

Nine of the users were journalists, 7 political activists, 5 students and 7 affiliated with religious organisations and 2 activists.

Meanwhile, many did not have any personal description. The handles belonged to those who claimed to be members of the Congress, Youth Congress, Trinamool Congress, the AIMIM and Bhartiya Insan Party (BIP).

On November 3, a fact-finding team of four, under Lawyers for Democracy, came to Tripura. They were booked after they claimed that the minority community was being targeted at Panisagar in North Tripura and called for police action and judicial probe.

The four- Ehtesham Hashmi, Supreme Court lawyer, Amit Srivastav, Coordinator of Lawyers for Democracy, NCHRO national secretary Ansar Indori and PUCL member Mukesh Kumar- were served with notices and IPC sections as well as UAPA were invoked on them. Police claimed their statements promoted enmity between religious groups and provoked the people of different religious communities, breaching peace.

Police said that a case had been registered at the West Agartala police station on charges of forgery, criminal conspiracy and UAPA after they had served notices to online platforms to block profiles of 102 users. Police alleged that the users had posted acrimonious content that could cause tension between religions and further communal riots.

Police claimed that these users posted fake or fabricated photos, videos, statements etc. They identified 128 social media posts, which compromised 94 Twitter posts, 32 Facebook posts, and 2 YouTube posts. Some contained distorted news, while some supported the Taliban and lobbied against India in connivance with ISI.

Police had booked these social media users with the same charges they invoked on the lawyers, citing "one to one correlation" of the lawyers' statement and "communal propaganda".

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