New Delhi: Manish Maheshwari, Twitter India chief has been named in an FIR in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the distorted map of India that showed Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as separate countries. Besides Maheshwari, Amrita Tripathi, Head, News Partnerships has also been named in the case, filed under Section 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code (creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and Section 74 of IT (Amendment) Act 2008. “This act of treason has been committed intentionally and action should be taken,” said the complaint filed by Bajrang Dal’s leader Praveen Bhati. Also Read – Twitter Removes Distorted Map Showing J&K and Ladakh Separate From India

Earlier last week, the Karnataka High Court had granted interim relief to Maheshwari, in connection with the FIR filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police over the Ghaziabad attack video. Justice G. Narendar restrained the UP Police from taking any coercive action against Maheshwari and also directed it to conduct their inquiry through virtual mode. Also Read – Sona Mohapatra Takes a Dig at Anu Malik Returning to Indian Idol 12: ‘Trash Loves Trash’

For the uninitiated, Maheshwari was summoned by UP police against the backdrop of a video wherein an elderly Muslim man was asked to shave his beard and was forced to chant ‘Vande Mataram‘ and ‘Jai Shri Ram‘. However, the Uttar Pradesh Police had ruled out any ‘communal angle’, and said that Sufi Abdul Samad, the elderly man, was attacked by six men who were unhappy over the taweez (amulets) he had sold them. Also Read – Tony Kakkar Breaks Silence on Criticism he Receives For His Music: ‘Bina Khilono Ke Bachpan Beeta Hai’

The FIR stated that the accused circulated a video of the incident on their Twitter handles without checking its authenticity and that they gave the video a communal angle and intended to incite communal hatred between religious communities. Maheshwari had filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court against the notice issued by UP Police in relation to this FIR, under Section 41A CrPC.

All You Need to Know About Distorted India Map Row

Twitter came under heavy criticism and faced backlash after the career section of Twitter website under the header ‘Tweep Life’  displayed a distorted map of India showing Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as separate countries.  The global map, which grossly misrepresented India’s boundaries, was removed on late Monday evening by Twitter following social media outrage.

Sources said the government is seriously looking into the matter. In this case, since the wrong depiction is on Twitter’s website, the case is not that of an ‘intermediary’ but of a publisher which is responsible for content.

This was not the first time that Twitter has misrepresented India’s map. Earlier, it had shown Leh as part of China.

In October last year, Twitter came under heavy criticism and faced backlash after its geotagging feature displayed “Jammu & Kashmir, People’s Republic of China” in a live broadcast from Leh’s Hall of Fame, a war memorial for fallen soldiers in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

India had issued a stern warning to Twitter that time, making it clear that any disrespect of the country’s sovereignty and integrity is totally unacceptable.

In November, Twitter again showed Leh as part of Jammu and Kashmir instead of the Union Territory of Ladakh, following which the Centre issued a notice to the US-based company for disrespecting the territorial integrity of India by showing an incorrect map.

Twitter Vs Centre

The Micro-blogging platform has been at loggerheads with the Indian government over the new social media rules. The government has confronted Twitter over deliberate defiance and failure to comply with the country’s new IT rules, despite repeated reminders. Notably, the microblogging platform has lost its legal shield as an intermediary in India, becoming liable for users posting any unlawful content.

Twitter’s apparent heavy-handedness has come under government scrutiny, given that the platform has not complied with the new IT rules, called intermediary guidelines, that mandate setting up a robust grievance redressal mechanism and appointing officers to coordinate with law enforcement.

The rules became effective from May 26 and Twitter, even after the expiry of the additional time, had not appointed the requisite officers, leading to it losing the ‘safe harbour’ immunity.

Even in the backdrop of heightened strained relations with the Indian government, Twitter on Friday briefly blocked IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from accessing his account over alleged violation of US copyright law — a move that was immediately slammed by the minister as being arbitrary and in gross violation of IT rules.

Meanwhile, Twitter’s interim grievance officer for India, Dharmendra Chatur, has quit within weeks of taking over the key role.

California-based Jeremy Kessel has now been named as India’s grievance redressal officer on the platform’s website — although the appointment does not meet the requirements of new IT rules that clearly mandate key officers including the grievance officer, to be resident in India.

Twitter and the government have been on a collision course on multiple issues in the past months, including during the farmers’ protest and later when the microblogging platform tagged political posts of several leaders of the ruling party BJP as “manipulated media”, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Centre.