Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Indian farmers’ protests: Twitter withholds, then restores, prominent accounts by government order

Indian farmers protest in December 2020. Image via Wikimedia Commons by Randeep Maddoke.

Indian farmers’ protest in December 2020. Image via Wikimedia Commons by Randeep Maddoke. CC0 Public Domain.

On February 1, Twitter temporarily blocked people in India from viewing more than 250 accounts that appeared to express support to the farmers’ protests that have rocked the country for the past four months. The accounts were restored around six hours later.

Twitter then told news agency ANI that it withheld the accounts in response to a request from India's Ministry of Electronics and IT to block accounts that had tweeted the hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide for making “fake, provocative, and intimidatory tweets.”

The US-based platform explained its decision by pointing to its policy of withholding content in certain countries, which it employs when it receives “a request from an authorized entity” in that jurisdiction.

A source speaking under the condition of anonymity told The Hindustan Times said that Twitter decided to restore the accounts after concluding that the content withheld was “speech and newsworthy.”

The Indian government then lashed at Twitter, saying it may take action against the company if does not comply with its orders. A statement said:

Twitter cannot assume the role of (a) court and justify non-compliance. […] Twitter being an intermediary is obliged to obey the directions as per the satisfaction of authorities as to which inflammatory content will arouse passion and impact public order. Twitter cannot sit as an appellate authority over the satisfaction of the authorities about its potential impact on derailing public order.

Among those suspended from Twitter on February 1 was India's prestigious magazine The Caravan. The publication's executive editor Vinod K. Jose told Buzzfeed news that Twitter's decision to withhold their official account is the “latest in a long list of targeted attacks” that had been mounted on the publication for pursuing important stories.

Activists and organizations that have been posting updates from the protests were also caught on the Twitter crackdown on Monday. Some of them were large popular accounts, such as @Tractor2twitr, @Kisanektamorcha, and @bkuektaugrahan.

The mass suspensions were deplored by the global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, who labelled it as a “shocking case of blatant censorship”. The organization added: “By ordering these blockings, the Home Affairs Ministry is behaving like an Orwellian Ministry of Truth who wants to impose its own narrative about the farmers’ protests.”

Many journalists in India have also condemned the action, such as Sania Farooqui:

Notable journalist Rana Ayyub tweeted:

Farmers joined in sit-in protests near the capital. 5 December 2020. Image via Wikimedia Commons by Randeep Maddoke. CC0 Public Domain.

Farmers joined in sit-in protests near the capital. 5 December 2020. Image via Wikimedia Commons by Randeep Maddoke. CC0 Public Domain.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers in many parts of India have been protesting against liberalizing agriculture reforms approved by the country's parliament in September 2020. Farmers’ unions and organizations say the reform, which among other measures removes subsidies and protections against big corporations, will endanger their livelihoods.

Thousands of farmers have camped for months outside New Delhi demanding the laws be repealed. Authorities have filed several sedition charges against activists and journalists since the demonstrations began, and have imposed internet shutdowns.

The protests drew global attention this week after international popstar Rihanna tweeted about the issue:

The following day, Meena Harris, the niece of United States’ Vice President Kamala Harris, also took to Twitter to condemn the internet shutdowns.

And on February 4, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg expressed support for the protests on a Twitter thread in which she also shared a “protest toolkit” — a document with resources for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the farmers’ or help with organizing.

The Delhi police then said it will investigate the toolkit's authors, who are thus far unknown.

Many Indians, including politicians, Bollywood stars, and cricketers condemned the tweets by foreign personalities.

In a statement released on February 3, India's Ministry of External Affairs also commented on the foreign personalities’ expressions of support: “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”

1 comment

  • samir sardana

    The Farmers have to understand some simple things !

    GOI is bankrupt !
    They will NOT pay MSP for any crop
    The GOI staffing will be CUT by 50% in the next 5 years
    Even Internal Security like CRPF … will be CUT (Like with the Blackwater Model)
    AI and Nano will make farmers OBSOLETE as 5 nations in Africa will be able to feed the world
    All Farm Subsidies will BE CUT – by MAKING FARMING UNVIABLE
    GOI and Bania need land – so by MAKING FARMING UNVIABLE – large land tracts will be freed and land rates will fall
    GOI and Bania need WATER – (as China and Pakistan will take over KASHMIR AND SO INDIA WILL HAVE NO WATER IN THE WEST AND CHINA WILL BLOCK THE BRAHMAPUTRA IN THE EAST)
    Industry and IT and services and the Middle class trash need gazillion litres of water – which will COME BY KILLING AGRICULTURE !
    Then the GOI will use the Israelis to destroy Indian Farming by a Man made virus to kill the crops and also to kill off the farmers ( so the virus will be customised to the weedicides …etc used by the farmers)

    GOI feels FARMERS ARE A DEAD WEIGHT AND A BURDEN ! dindooohindoo

    Basically all FARMERS IN THE WORLD WILL BE OBSOLETE – But they will be aborbed – BUT IN INDIA 800 MILLION PEOPLE CANNOT BE ABSORBED

    So,if Rice is sold by FARMERS at 10/kg and the user pays Rs 100/kg,THERE IS ONLY 1 OPTION !

    ELIMINATE THE BANIA,MARWARI,GUJARATI,JAIN.KAYASTHA FILTH ! They are the shopkeepers and the marketing supply chain.THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.

    If u raise the MSP for farmers ,the agri processing and retail and entertainment sector will die – and they PAY LARGE INDIRECT AND DIRECT TAXES TO THE GOI !

    QED !

    So,ELIMINATE the BANIAS and PARTITION INDIA – as the farmers NEED A COMMUNIST NATION ! THE INDIAN MEDIA IS OWNED AND RUN BY BANIAS AND BRAHMINS !

    These banias are English illiterate,and a race of liars,thieves and cheats – a race of pure Indians,id.est., they are not Rig Vedic invaders.They have atypical Indian features,and are easily identifiable.

    They sold their women for money,and so they could sell their editorials for doles from the GOI.dindooohindoo

    What is the Bania filth (Marwari-Gujarati-Kayastha ).

    It is the Bania filth who worked as spies for each invader into Hindoosthan ! They also funded the wars of the Mughals and Sakas and Huns. There is not one 1 record in history of them having stood up for anything ! They sold their women to the invaders

    The Birlas,Goenkas,Bajajs and other bania filth built their empire by sending their women to Nehru for his peccadilos.They also funded Ambedkar in London – result that – Ambedkar spoke not one word against the Bania vermin !

    95% of the NPA and Bank Frauds in North India upto the borders of the Vindhyas are on account of Bania vermin ! No one talks of the said statistic as every media house is owned and managed by banias or has 75% of the advert revenue from Banias

    To hide all of the above and their history,the bania media owners are now,paragons of ethics,morality, JINGOISM,PATRIOTISM, NATIONALISM and democracy.These rats who did not shed their urine, in a single war of the Hindoo nation,since the war of “Bharata”,are exhorting Indians to die for the natoon,and also,exhorting the dubious courage of foolish Indian soldiers from poor,backward and destitute families. (who are getting slaughtered in Galwan or Kashmir)

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site