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Tripura riots: Police is scrutinizing the tweets of journalists

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The Indian police is scanning the Twitter accounts of dozens of journalists and lawyers to see if they have written anything about anti-Muslim violence. The action is being taken in the wake of the anti-Muslim violence in Tripura. Police in India has started investigating dozens of social media accounts of lawyers, journalists and social workers. It is being investigated whether these people did not write anything that incited the violence during the recent communal violence in Tripura. On Sunday, the authorities started investigation in criminal case against at least 102 social media account holders. This investigation is being done under the allegations of spreading fake news. Among those being investigated are an Australian journalist and a professor of law living in the US, apart from several eminent journalists from India. According to the information, most of those who are being investigated are Muslims. Last month in Tripura, mobs had committed violence in Muslim areas at many places.

In response to the anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh, several Hindu organizations took out rallies in the state. At the same time, mobs attacked at least four mosques and dozens of homes and shops in Muslim areas. Case under UAPA Police said the accounts of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube being probed are suspected to have incited violence through fake videos and other material. A case has been registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for action. Human rights activists call it a dark and cruel law. Under this law, the police have the right to detain anyone for six months without any charge. Most of the controversial social media posts had been removed by Sunday. There are many posts in these which are about the Muslims who were attacked in Tripura.

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CJ Wallerman, an Australian journalist, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not condemn the violence in Tripura and incidents like the detention of Muslims protesting the violence. Byline Times journalist Wallerman wrote on October 30, “27 attacks on mosques and Muslim properties in Tripura by Hindu mobs have been confirmed.” An Indian journalist Shyam Meera Singh is also being investigated. Singh had tweeted, “Tripura is burning.” He said that Twitter had informed him through an email that Tripura Police has requested action against this tweet. Condemning the police action, Reporters Without Borders said on Monday, “The only crime of these journalists is that they wrote about the attacks on mosques in the northeastern state of Tripura.” The Editors Guild of India also condemned the police action, demanding that the riots be investigated “instead of punishing journalists and social workers”.

Tripura is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party party. Critics say attacks against the Muslim population in India have increased since the Modi government came to power at the Centre. The government denies these allegations as false. Opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has also condemned the investigation of Tripura Police’s social media accounts. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Indicating that Tripura is burning is demanding action. But BJP’s favorite trick to cover up is, punish the messenger. Truth cannot be hidden from UAPA.” VK/AA (AFP).

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