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MEITY orders Twitter to block accounts using 'ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide' hashtag

The accounts were blocked on Monday afternoon but were accessible again hours later

"Incitement to genocide is a grave threat to public order and, therefore, the MEITY ordered blocking these Twitter accounts and tweets under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act", the source said.

A Twitter spokeswoman said "it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time" if "a properly scoped" request is made. "Well someone I know as a strong voice against the atrocities of the Present government, @sushant_says, his account has been blocked by @TwitterIndia".

Microblogging site Twitter on Monday, citing "legal demands", blocked several accounts, including that of a news website, actor, political workers and bloggers, that were posting messages in support of the ongoing farmers' agitation.

YourStory has written to Twitter for a statement and more details on the same, and we will update the story as soon as we hear back from the company. These accounts have been withheld in India "in response to a legal demand", however, the accounts may still be visible to users outside India, or even in India when viewing using a virtual private network (VPN).

Notably, Twitter suspended the account of former president of the United States, Donald Trump, and thousands of others, following violence at the Capitol Hill on 6 January. The list of blocked accounts includes- media outlets, politicians, farmer leaders, writers, activists, etc. Twitter handles of Prasar Bharti Chief and Caravan Magazine have been withheld.

The Indian government's Ministry of Electronics and IT submitted a list of around 250 accounts and tweets that had allegedly used the "ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide" hashtag to Twitter, accusing the accounts of "making fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets", according to a government memo shared with Indian journalists and seen by TIME.

"Protecting public conversation and Transparency is fundamental to the work we do at Twitter, the content has been unblocked", the company said late on Monday. The series of events unfold days after the farmers' protests turned violent on January 26 this year and the same day as the announcement of the Union Budget 2021.

"Transparency is vital to protecting freedom of expression, so we have a notice policy for withheld content". According to the 2016 book I am a Troll by Swati Chaturvedi, disinformation and harassment campaigns are coordinated by senior party officials who share talking points with vocal supporters, who then tweet them out on their personal accounts. "Upon receipt of requests to withhold content, we'll promptly notify affected account holders", the spokesperson further said.