On Monday, a team of Special Cell officials, an elite branch of the police, tasked with investigating terrorism and organized crime in New Delhi, stormed Twitter’s office in the city to “give a notice” to the head of Twitter in India. A Twitter spokesman told BuzzFeed News that police had tried to enter a Twitter office in Gurugram, which was permanently closed.
Twitter’s move comes three days after it was labeled “Manipulated Media.” Tweets Half a dozen members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, including the main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, have accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of conspiring to harm India’s second wave of the coronavirus epidemic.
In a photo circulated by members, they claimed that the Indian National Congress was providing special medical facilities to journalists affected by the epidemic, among other things. AltNews, an Indian fact-checking website, found the image to be fake. (Congress has also lodged a complaint with the police against BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who first shared the photo.) On Friday, India’s IT ministry sent a letter to the company asking it to remove the labels. Twitter didn’t.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment.
Several Delhi Police spokespersons did not respond to requests for comment. But law enforcement sources told BuzzFeed News that they went to Twitter’s office and gave Twitter notice as part of a “routine process” after receiving a “vague answer” from Twitter India’s managing director. Manish Maheshwari.
In a video of the police action seen on BuzzFeed News, officers went to the receptionist in the lobby of the New Delhi building, which houses the Indian headquarters on Twitter, and asked security guards about the location of the office. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
For months, Twitter has kept the horn off with the Indian government. In February, the company refused to censor the tweets of Indian journalists, activists and politicians, despite instructions from the Indian government to do so, and did not pull the government’s line despite threats from prison officials from the IT ministry.
In late February, the Indian government unveiled new rules to give more power to social media companies. On Friday, it issued an order asking platforms to remove content that referred to the “Indian version” of the coronavirus, according to Reuters.