Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to photo-sharing social media platform Instagram after his official account was blocked by Twitter for sharing images of the family of a nine-year-old alleged rape-and-murder victim in Delhi last week in violation of laws.
Sharing a few notes on Instagram with the caption ‘daro mat… satyameva jayate’ (don’t fear…truth alone triumphs), Gandhi said he was guilty if fighting for justice for a rape and murder victim is a crime.
“If showing compassion and empathy is a crime. I am guilty.” He further said the message of compassion, love and justice is universal and 1.3 billion Indians will not be silenced.
“They can lock us out on a platform. But they can’t lock out our voice for the sake of the people.”
Earlier in the day, the Congress alleged its official Twitter handle as well as that of a large number of party leaders, including Gandhi, and workers have been blocked by the microblogging website.
The head of the Congress’s social media department, Rohan Gupta, said the party’s official Twitter handle and around 5,000 accounts of its top leaders and workers have been blocked by the website.
“Twitter is clearly acting under the government’s pressure as it did not remove the same pictures shared by the Twitter account of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes for a few days,” he said.
Twitter defended the move saying the accounts were blocked to protect individual privacy and safety after they posted images that violated its rules.
The grand old party also moved to Instagram and wrote, “Twitter India has locked the official handle of the principal opposition party.
This is an unprecedented attack on the voice of the people.” The Congress leadership accused Twitter’s management of acting under pressure from the Narendra Modi government.
The party’s chief spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala, said the Centre would not be able to suppress their voice by threatening Twitter.
“How much will you scare Twitter at the behest of the police? This is not just an issue of freedom of speech, but it is the issue of raising the voice of a poor Valmiki Dalit girl for justice and bringing it before the country.
Till justice is given to the poor girl, we will continue to raise this voice,” he said. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said
Twitter was colluding with the government to stifle democracy. “Is Twitter following its own policy for the suspension of Congress leaders’ accounts or the Modi government’s?
Why hadn’t it locked the account of SC commission that had tweeted similar photos before any of our leaders did?
She further said the real issue was the “brutal rape and forced cremation” of the Dalit girl in the heart of the national capital and questioned the prime minister’s silence on it.
“The real issue is the Delhi Police disallowing the lodging of an FIR for 15 hours.
@narendramodi why have you not uttered a single word about this heinous crime against an innocent child?
The Twitter accounts of All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretaries Surjewala, K C Venugopal, Harish Rawat, Ajay Maken, the party’s whip in the Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore, Assam in-charge and former Union minister Jitendra Singh and Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev have also been blocked, the party said.
Rawat said at a time when the country is just three days away from celebrating Independence Day, the freedom of expression of opposition leaders is being snatched away.
“Have Twitter India and the Constitution of India become so weak in a democracy?” the former Uttarakhand chief minister asked on Facebook.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot accused the Centre of suppressing the voice of opposition leaders. “The central government is betraying the countrymen by suppressing the voice of the opposition on issues related to the country,” he said in a tweet.
When contacted, a Twitter spokesperson said the company’s rules are enforced judiciously and impartially for everyone in its service.
“We have taken proactive action on several hundred tweets that posted an image that violated our rules and may continue to do so in line with our range of enforcement options.
Certain types of private information carry higher risks than others and our aim is always to protect individual privacy and safety,” he said.
Twitter’s move came days after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) complained to it about Gandhi revealing the identity of the alleged sexual assault victim and her parents.
The rights body had directed Twitter to act against Gandhi’s account for violating the privacy of a minor victim, mandated by the laws of the land.
To mark their protest Various Congress leaders changed their Twitter handle names to Rahul Gandhi with some of them even replacing their display pictures on the website with that of the former party chief.
Meanwhile, the TMC condemned the action taken by Twitter against Congress leaders. “What’s going on? We strongly condemn the blocking of the accounts of @INCIndia and senior leaders of the Congress party,” Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O’Brien said in a tweet.