India World

India: Twitter accounts of opposition leader Rahul Gandhi among thousands locked

Twitter has reportedly locked several accounts run by opposition party including that of Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The accounts were locked after they tweeted a photo of the parents of a nine-year-old, who was allegedly raped and murdered in the capital, Delhi.

The Congress party accused Twitter of acting on orders from the ruling party. But Twitter said the photo violated their privacy rules which were “enforced judiciously and impartially”.

Mr Gandhi, who has nearly 20 million followers, said in a video message on Friday that by shutting his account, Twitter was interfering with India’s political process.

“This is not, you know, simply shutting Rahul Gandhi down. I have 19-20 million followers. You are denying them the right to an opinion. That’s what you are doing,” he said.

Mr Gandhi’s photograph with the parents of the nine-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped and murdered by a priest and his accomplices in the capital, Delhi, was taken on 4 August when he visited the family.

Twitter deleted Mr Gandhi’s post after India’s child rights body asked it to remove the photograph from its platform, pointing out that it revealed the identity of the rape victim, which is forbidden under Indian law.

As Mr Gandhi refused to delete the image, the micro-blogging site locked his account on 6 August and he has been unable to tweet since then. Over the past few days, the official account of the Congress party, several of its leaders and “about 5,000 volunteers” have also been locked.

The opposition claimed that in previous rape instances “photographs” and “extensive interviews” of family members were shared on social media but these “rules didn’t apply then”.

The opposition has accused Twitter of being “politically coloured, mischievously motivated, and downright malafide” and being “completely subservient to the Modi government”.

Critics have long accused Mr Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of silencing criticism on social media by asking platforms to restrict content.