The Muzaffarnagar communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh have spurred a parallel outbreak of inflammatory posts on social media. On 9 September,¬†Shehzad Poonawalla, lawyer and brother of columnist Tehseen Poonawalla, urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)¬†to¬†take action and mandate the Directory of Telecom to screen and remove all such content from the various social media platforms.
He also filed an FIR against several Twitter accounts, including those of ¬†VHP pracharak Praveen Togadia¬†and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. The social media platform Twitter has also been named in the FIR lodged with the Delhi Police.
In his petition, he wrote that ‚Äúthe tweets are aimed at endangering the law and order situation and promoting enmity and hatred between communities and provoking them against each other at a time when the law and order situation in UP is already fragile. Such tweets are in a clear violation of the Section 66A (a) and (b), Section 295(A) Section 153A and 153B of IPC 1860 and also the IT Act 2010 and fall under cognizable and non-bailable offences.‚ÄĚ¬†He also wrote,¬†‚ÄúWhat is further discomforting is the fact that it‚Äôs not just some fanatics in the garb of anonymity who tweet venomous material but also people like Mr. Swamy and Praveen Togadia who seem hell bent to burn holes in the secular fabric of this nation‚ÄĚ.
Speaking to TEHELKA, Poonawalla said that his objective behind filing the petition is to highlight how social media, and in particular Twitter, is being misused by certain sections to spread hatred and enmity amongst communities. ‚ÄúAs an Indian, I cannot allow the pluralism of my nation to be thwarted by their 140 characters of bigotry‚ÄĚ.
It is not the first time that Twitter has been accused of not taking stern action against inflammatory content on its website. Recently, Twitter refused to take down inflammatory content targeting students from Northeast. Some journalists have also been threatened on the social media platform.