The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has started cracking down on social media ‘offenders’ a big way.
The Unnao police, on Sunday, lodged an FIR against eight Twitter handles and its users, including @themojostory run by senior journalist Barkha Dutt, on charges of spreading “misleading information” in connection with the recovery of the bodies of two minor girls in Baburha village of the district.
The other handles against whom the FIR has been lodged include @BhimSenaChief (run by Nawab Satpal Tanwar), @NilimDutta, @janjagranlive, @SurajKrBaudh (spokesperson, Azad Samaj Party), @vijayambedkarUP, Abhaykumarazad97, and @Rahuldiwkr.
Earlier, on Saturday, former MP and Congress leader, Udit Raj, had been booked by Unnao police for allegedly spreading misinformation through his tweet.
Unnao police claimed that the users of these eight twitter handles had tweeted that the two minor girls, who were found dead in the fields, were sexually assaulted and that their last rites were performed against the wish of their families.
The Twitter users have been booked under charges of spreading rumours with the intention of causing riots, and under relevant sections of the Information Technology Act.
Superintendent of police, Unnao, Anand Kulkarni said, “All those who tried to flare up tension and disturb harmony through different social media platforms will not be let off. We have lodged an FIR and will conduct a probe into the tweets. The misinformation was deliberately spread by people associated with parties, units and groups which are trying to discredit the ruling government and disturb the prevailing law and order.”
Kulkarni claimed some of the updates and tweets were removed after the police issued a statement that the post-mortem report has not confirmed rape.
The SP said despite the post-mortem examination ruling out sexual assault and injuries on the bodies of the victims, some people and parties having vested interests, continued to spread misinformation that the girls were raped.
“Similarly, neither the police nor the administration was trying to conduct last rites of the two girls. The family told us that some of their relatives were to arrive from Surat and they would then perform the last rites of the girls,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a statement on the FIR, @themojostory said: “We have reported all dimensions of the tragedy, the family’s anxieties and allegations as well as the police response at every step. If this case is pursued, we will confidently defend our journalistic rights and freedom in the court.”