Twitter offices in Delhi and Gurgaon were raided by Delhi Police Special Cell on Monday night in connection with their “Toolkit” probe.
A team of officers from the Delhi Police Special Cell is searching for the Twitter India offices in Lado Sarai, Delhi and Gurugram. The search is being conducted in connection with an inquiry into a complaint regarding an alleged COVID-19 ‘toolkit’. On Monday, Delhi police had sent a notice to Twitter India seeking clarification for classifying a related tweet of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra as “manipulated media”, an official has explained.
This ratchets up the controversy over tweets by BJP leaders alleging a “Congress toolkit”, which the Congress has called fake. A Delhi Police official said they had decided to issue a notice to Twitter after receiving complaints from Rohan Gupta, who heads the Congress’s social media department, and M V Rajeev Gowda, the party’s national spokesperson, over the BJP’s “toolkit” allegations.
However, hours after the Delhi Police action, Congress hit out at the Government saying that “subjugation of free speech”, attempts to stifle “dissenting voices” and the bid to instill fear were continuing unabated.
The police move comes two days after the Centre objected to Twitter tagging some posts on the alleged “toolkit” as “manipulated media” — one of the posts was by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
— Jignasa Sinha (@jignasa_sinha) May 24, 2021
On May 19, police in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh registered a case against Patra and former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh over the “toolkit” tweets.
The action by Delhi Police is also the latest in a series of flashpoints over the last six months between the Centre and the US-based social media giant over critical tweets on a range of issues – from the farmers’ protests to the Government’s Covid response.
Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal said the action was “a part of a routine process”. “This was necessitated as we wanted to ascertain who is the right person to serve a notice, as replies by Twitter India MD have been very ambiguous,” he said.
On Monday, police teams in three cars were sent to both locations — while they couldn’t locate the Gurgaon office, the one in Delhi was locked, officials said.
A senior officer from the Special Cell said the team had sent a notice to Twitter about the case but didn’t receive “an appropriate response”. “We want to know what information Twitter has about the toolkit and why they chose to give the ‘manipulated media’ label. Our team visited their Gurgaon office on Golf Course Road and Delhi office in Mehrauli to hand over the notice,” he said.
In April, Twitter conveyed to Lumen Database that it has taken down or restricted access to over 50 tweets flagged by the Central government, through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in the past month.
Some of the takedown notices sent by the Centre sought removal or blocking of access in India to tweets that were critical of its handling of the second Covid wave. Other tweets showed pictures and videos of the Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh that left at least 22 security personnel dead.