TIM Uppal, MP for Edmonton Mill Woods and former federal minister of state, has expressed concern at Twitter’s suspension of Canadian Punjabi singer Jazzy B’s account in India.
Uppal tweeted: “@jazzyb is a strong voice for community related issues in Canada and around the world. Very concerned to see @Twitter in India suspend his account.”
According to techcrucnh.com, Twitter disclosed on Monday “on Lumen Database, a Harvard University project, that it took action on four accounts — including those of hip-hop artist L-Fresh the Lion and singer and song-writer Jazzy B — to comply with a legal request from the Indian government it received over the weekend.” The accounts are geo-restricted within India.
An analysis by TechCrunch found that “all four accounts, like several others that the Indian government ordered to be blocked in the country earlier this year, had protested New Delhi’s agriculture reforms and some had posted other tweets that criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seven years of governance in India.”
According to The Hindu newspaper: Jaswinder Singh Bains aka JazzyB is described by his website as a “transatlantic superstar” and “the Crowned Prince of Bhangra, Born in Punjab and raised in Canada.” Hits by JazzyB include ‘Ghugian da Jorra’, ‘Dil Aah Gey Ya Tere Te’, ‘Londono Patola’, ‘Husna di Sarkar’ and ‘Naag’.”
The Indian newspaper added: “He joined farmers protesting against the government’s controversial farm laws at the Singhu border in December last year and has been frequently tweeting in favour of the protests.
“Sukhdeep Singh Bhogal, who is known as L-Fresh the Lion, is an Australian hip-hop artist from Sydney, Australia. He too had tweeted in favour of farm law protestors, highlighting alleged deaths during the protests. Both artists took to Instagram to confirm that their Twitter accounts have been blocked in India.”
Jazzy B reacted by writing on his Instagram account: “I will always stand for the rights of my people. #KisanMajdoorIktaZindabad #NeverForget 1984, #RaiseYourVoice.”
The Hindu said that he “reposted a screenshot of his Twitter account, shared by a page, which claimed that his profile was blocked for “raising his voice for the rights of farmers and calling for justice for 1984 victims.” The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which had broken out after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had claimed 2,733 lives in Delhi alone.”
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson told IANS that when it receives a valid legal request, it reviews it under both the Twitter Rules and local law.
“If the content violates Twitter’s Rules, the content will be removed from the service. In all cases, we notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account,” the spokesperson said.
Ahead of withholding the content, Twitter had notified the account holders so that they were aware that the action has been taken in response to a legal request from the government of India.
Earlier on Monday, amid the ongoing tussle with the IT Ministry over compliance with the new IT rules, Twitter said it has been and remains deeply committed to India, and serving the vital public conversation taking place on the service.
“We have assured the Government of India that Twitter is making every effort to comply with the new Guidelines, and an overview on our progress has been duly shared. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian government,” the company said in a latest statement.
The Indian government has now told the micro-blogging platform that it is clear from the responses of the company that till date it has not informed about the details of the Chief Compliance Office as required under the Rules.
The IT Ministry said in its last notice that the Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person nominated by the platform are not its employees in India as required under the new rules.
The platform and the Centre have been at loggerheads for quite some time.
In April, Twitter pulled down at least 50 tweets at the behest of the Indian government, criticising it for the poor handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The data available on Lumen database showed that the micro-blogging platform has deleted more than 50 tweets that belonged to people like Revanth Reddy, an MP from Telangana; Moloy Ghatak, a West Bengal state minister; two filmmakers; an actor and others.
In February, Twitter took a range of enforcement actions against certain Twitter accounts after the Indian government ordered it to take down more than 500 accounts for clear violations of its rules.