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BJP politician irked at Shiva GIF on Instagram, files complaint with Delhi Police

A BJP politician from Delhi, Manish Singh, filed a complaint against Instagram with the Delhi Police for the alleged offensive portrayal of Hindu deity Shiva in one of its GIFs, according to a picture of the complaint he posted on Twitter.

In the tweet posted in Hindi, loosely translated in English, Singh said, “Look at Instagram’s audacity. They are showing Mahadev’s (Shiva) picture with a glass of alcohol in one hand, and a mobile on the other. Instagram will suffer consequences for this.” Singh in the tweet also said that he has complained in this regard to Delhi Police to file a case against Instagram CEO and other officials under Section 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

While police look into the complaint, Instagram appears to have removed the GIF from its repository. We have reached out to Instagram for comment. We have also reached out to Singh for comment on whether he filed a complaint with Facebook’s grievance officer.

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What does the complaint say? : “Lord Shiva is venerated by millions and millions of Hindus as the Supreme God…By the way of the above GIF, the accused is deliberately and intentionally hurting the feeling and sentiments of the millions and millions of Hindus, including the complainant…the GIF has been done with the sole intention of inciting the followers of the Hindu community and in the process promote disharmony, hatred and enmity,” said the complaint shared by Singh on Twitter.

Deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying, “We have received a complaint and an inquiry has been initiated. All the aspects in the complaint are being verified and looked into. As of now, no first information report (FIR) has been registered.”

While no FIR has been reportedly filed in this case, the way Singh approached the police directly defeats the point of the recently notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which requires social media companies to appoint a grievance officer to address complaints like this. Earlier social media companies had expressed their fear of “parallel criminal action”.

In a letter to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, social media companies under the banner of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) warned that the rules would be undermined if people continued to go to the police in spite of the rules, and asked for language that protected social media companies and users’ rights.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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