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Social media posts on CDS General Rawat’s death leads to multiple arrests: Report

The charges were filed under sections of the Indian Penal Code and, in one case, the Information Technology Act.

Several people have faced action for their social media posts and messages on the death of Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and others, according to an Indian Express report. Across several states, police have arrested nine people and booked two, while an employee of a nationalised bank was suspended.

It is not clear if the platforms provided law enforcement authorities with information on the accused; MediaNama has reached out to Meta and Twitter and will update the report once a response is received. This is the latest in a trend of Indian law enforcement cracking down on social media content and holding users of these platforms criminally liable.

What’s the case against the accused?

Rajasthan: Two people were booked for allegedly posting offensive material on Facebook about the Army chopper crash that led to General Rawat’s demise, while another was arrested for their remarks on Instagram, as per the Indian Express. In the latter case, the charges were brought under Section 505 (2) of the IPC, which penalises making statements with intent to cause public mischief or alarm to the public.

Jammu and Kashmir: One man was arrested in Jammu for allegedly forwarding a post on Facebook with ‘derogatory’ remarks against General Rawat and an employee of Jammu and Kashmir Bank was suspended for ‘laugh’ reacting to a Facebook post on General Rawat’s death.

Tamil Nadu: A YouTuber was arrested for tweeting that General Rawat’s death was the result of a conspiracy, and attacking the state’s ruling party for mocking the defence chief’s death and encouraging separatist politics. Charges against him were filed under IPC Sections 153 on giving provocation with intent to cause a riot, 504 which pertains to intentionally insulting to provoke breach of peace, and 505(2) which pertains to promoting enmity.

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MediaNama could ascertain that at least one of the accused’s tweets was still up at the time of publishing this report.

Gujarat: Two people were arrested over allegedly offensive Facebook comments and posts about General Rawat’s death. The accused was charged under Section 84 (c) of the Information Technology Act as well as other sections of the IPC.

Madhya Pradesh: A man was arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks against General Rawat on Facebook. He faces charges under IPC Sections 297 which is regarding trespassing to wound religious feelings), 153A which has provisions on promoting enmity between different groups, and 153B.

Karnataka: Two people were booked for allegedly posting derogatory remarks on Facebook about Rawat’s death, the report mentioned.

Indian government requests to social media platforms on the rise

Global data from transparency reports by social media platforms has shown that requests for information from India, about user accounts, are steadily increasing.

In November, Meta said that it received 45,275 information requests in the first half of 2021, second only to the United States of America. This was a 12% increase from data reported over the second half of 2020, and Meta complied with over 50% of these requests.

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In July, Twitter said that it received the highest number of information requests from India in the second half of 2020. A 38% rise in the number of requests was reported (as compared to the first half of 2020) but Twitter complied with only 1% of these requests.

India’s Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021 has provisions for social media intermediaries to provide information to government agencies. The Rules require intermediaries to provide information for verification of identity or assist any government agency for crime prevention and investigations no later than 72 hours after receiving a lawful order.

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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