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Nitish makes anti-govt social media posts a cybercrime, Tejashwi says CM is ‘like Hitler’

ADG, Economic Offences Unit, has asked govt officials to apprise the agency of defamatory social media posts. BJP leaders say people’s right to criticise is still intact.

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Patna: The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar has decided to bring defamatory and offensive social social media posts against ministers, MPs, MLAs, the administration and its officials under the purview of cybercrime.

A letter was sent Thursday by ADG, Economic Offences Unit (EOU), the nodal agency for cybercrime, Nayyar Hasnain Khan, to all the principal secretaries and secretary-rank officials, asking them to apprise the EOU of any such derogatory social media posts so that “legal action against such persons, groups can be initiated”.

Khan told ThePrint that such defamatory posts vitiate the law and order atmosphere.

“Previously, we used to ask the server provider to delete the posts. Now, there can be an investigation and an FIR against the guilty will be lodged,” said Khan.

He said the step has been taken to check the spurt in cybercrime. 

“In 2020, there was a 20 per cent rise (in cybercrime) in comparison to previous years. The EOU receives around 600 complaints every day. Most of them are from the common people, but even public representatives come to us with complaints that social media is being used for character assassination and levelling false charges and even abuses,” he added.

Bihar has an estimated over 60 million mobile users, who are active on social media. 

The opposition RJD, meanwhile, launched an all-out attack on Nitish over the order, with party leader Tejashwi Yadav comparing him to Hitler and daring the CM to arrest him.

The NDA leaders in the state have, however, defended the CM’s order, saying that people’s right to criticise on social media is still intact.


Also read: Bihar gave Pyrrhic victory award to Nitish Kumar and best loser award to Tejashwi Yadav


Politics and social media

For the last one year, Nitish Kumar has been on the receiving end of social media wrath, with both the RJD and BJP emerging stronger on social media, specially after the exit of Prashant Kishor from JD(U) in 2019.

On 5 January this year, Nitish at a government function had expressed concern over social media becoming a platform for vested interests to misguide people.

Kuch na kuch likhte rehte hain (They keep writing something or the other on social media),” the CM had said.

JD(U) leaders said Nitish’s main grievance was that during the Covid-19 crisis, social media was abuzz with criticism for his government, despite the fact that the administration reached out to around 3 million migrant labourers by transferring Rs 1,000 to their accounts, and also creating over 1,500 quarantine centers in the state.

In recent times, Tejashwi Yadav has gone big on social media, calling Nitish a “blackmailer” and repeatedly accusing the new national president of JD(U), R.C.P. Singh of being involved in corruption.

‘Nitish is Bhishma Pitamaha of corruption’

Reacting to the order, Yadav tweeted, “Protesters cannot protest. Jail if you write against the government. People are not allowed to take their complaints to the opposition leader… Nitish ji, we know that you are completely tired, but have some shame.”

 

In another tweet, he termed Nitish “Bhishma Pitamaha of corruption”, and challenged the CM to arrest him.

 

RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwari told ThePrint there are already laws to file defamation cases against social media posts, which are perceived as defamatory. 

“This order is anti-democratic and can be misused. After all, who decides if a post is derogatory or not?” he said.

Tiwari said that social media was being used to criticise the ruling party and highlight the lawlessness in the state and rampant corruption, and the government is trying to throttle it.

Dubbing the order as “Tughlaqi”, RJD MP Manoj Jha in a statement said “the order shows that Nitish Kumar has not been able to handle and understand the people’s mandate”.

“Will people be jailed for asking questions on governance? The people will not accept this order and it will remain a piece of paper,” he added.

BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel, however, told ThePrint, “The right to criticise has not been touched. But social media platforms must not be used for character assassination, false news and abuses.”

‘Nitish preferred to follow Yogi Adtiyanath’

Till date, action in cybercrime in Bihar has been limited to only economic frauds and threats on social media. 

Unlike in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, nobody has been arrested for targeting the chief minister on social media in Bihar so far.

“This order lays the foundation for action against political activists. Nitish has preferred to follow Yogi Adtiyanath,” said Tiwari.


Also read: No cabinet meetings, no expansion — why Bihar’s brand new Nitish govt is yet to get going


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. I have so consistently praised Sushasan Babu in my comments, some burly cops from Patna should be landing up at our doorsteps. Maids will tell them, Yeh SSR Saheb ka ghar nahin hai.

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