Twitter has blocked the account of Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Chaudhary Sukhram Singh Yadav in India, Medianama reported on Thursday. Yadav’s is one of the most high-profile blockings undertaken by the social media platform in the country so far.
“@MPSukhram‘s account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand,” the message on the micro-blogging reads as users try to access his page that has 244 followers.
According to a report in Scroll.in, Twitter said that the account has been withheld in response to a legal notice for users accessing it in India. However, users outside the country can see the MP’s tweets normally.
Yadav, a member of the Samajwadi Party, confirmed that the account (which is not verified with a blue tick) is his official Twitter handle. Yadav’s team also confirmed to MediaNama that they are able to post tweets, but not view them. Starting Wednesday, tweets from Yadav’s account had received no likes, retweets or replies, indicating that the account was withheld for Indian users as recently as a day ago.
Yadav’s account is able to send tweets, but tweets remain invisible in India, even to his team controlling the account, they said.
An incesnsed Chaudhary told MediaNama, “To block the account of a people’s representative — this is one of the worst things to do in a democracy. If an MP is not given preference, then what can be said of the common man. I belong to a family where I am the third MP; my uncle was an MP, my father was an MP. To withhold an account of such an MP is not a sign of democracy.”
He added that he would be writing to the government to protest the blocking.
It was not immediately clear if Yadav’s account was withheld on the directives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, for allegedly spreading misinformation about the farmers’ protest.
Twitter recently said it blocked a few hundred handles that the Indian government ordered them to take down. However, it held that it wouldn’t block accounts belonging to journalists, activists and politicians, deeming those accounts newsworthy. In a meeting on Wednesday night, the Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, told the company’s officials that they would have to comply with Indian law, but stopped short of demanding explicitly that the rest of the accounts ordered by MEITY be withdrawn.
Without naming Twitter, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday accused the platform of not cooperating in investigations into protests at the Red Fort.
“This won’t work in India,” he said.