Twitter criticised for suspending prominent Indian rights activist’s account


Twitter suspended the account of Indian journalist, author and activist Salil Tripathi on Sunday after he tweeted a video of himself reciting a poem about the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition and the 2002 Gujarat riots.

In response to query regarding the suspension of Mr. Tripathi’s account, Twitter said it was “temporarily suspended for publishing a list that violates our abusive behaviour policy”.

The action was reportedly taken by Twitter after Mr. Tripathi’s last tweet, a poem he shared on the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque which he dedicated to his mother.

A part of the poem in the tweet in question read: “On December 6, 1992, as you called me at my office in Singapore, when they destroyed the Babri Masjid. We have just killed Gandhi again, you said.”

“As Hindu mobs went, house-to-house, looking for Muslims to kill. After a train compartment in Godhra burned, killing 58 Hindus in February 2002. You were right, each time,” he said in the poem.

Prominent personalities, including British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, Under-Secretary-General UN Shashi Tharoor and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, voiced their anger and called the suspension “outrageous”.

“This is an outrageous act of censorship against one of the most important advocates of free speech. Twitter, stop it now! Jack what’s going on?” Rushdie wrote.

“Outrageous! Twitter suspended account of Journalist Salil Tripathi, chair PEN International’s Writers in Prison. One of his tweets reported as “offensive” was a video of Tripathi performing a poem he had written for mother, on the demolition of Babri Masjid!,” said top lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Salil Tripathi is Chair of writers’ body PEN International’s ‘Writers in Prison Committee’ and board member of English PEN from 2009 to 2013 in the UK.

The noted human rights activist received the Red Ink Award from the Mumbai Press Club for human rights journalism in 2015 and awarded third prize at the Bastiat Awards, New York for journalism in 2011.

On December 6 1992, a sixteenth-century mosque was razed by a Hindu mob, which claimed that the mosque was built over a pre-existing Hindu temple. The demolition of the mosque was followed by worst communal riots in India’s history which lasted two months.

The riots resulted in the death of about 2000 people between December 1992 and January 1993.

On Sunday, several supporters of ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marked December 06 as Shaurya Divas (Bravery Day) to celebrate the day.

However, many Muslim politicians including Asaduddin Owaisi called it injustice, lamenting that those accused in the demolition have been acquitted from the case. (Source: Independent UK)