Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday launched a scathing diatribe against Twitter after his account was temporarily blocked. Coming as it did against the company's ongoing tensions with the Centre, many viewed it as a response to the government's new IT rules.

But even as many called for a ban on Twitter and others dubbed this a travesty, Opposition leaders and critics hit out at the lawmaker, citing the lengthy internet shutdown in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Oh ho ho Hon’ble IT Minister, Sir- so sorry your ac blocked for 1 hour. Internet access denied to lakhs of people in J&K for months on end. Karma is not enough of a b..." jibed TMC MP Mahua Moitra on Saturday morning.

Many others on Twitter, including economic and political commentator Salman Anees Soz also drew a similar parallel. The lengthy internet shutdown in Kashmir had earlier earned the dubious honour of being considered the longest ever in a democracy.

"A government that suspended the internet for months in J&K, adversely impacting millions of lives, is feeling hurt by Twitter's 1-hour suspension of a minister's account. India faces huge challenges but this is what they focus on. They have no shame," added Soz.

Other prominent politicians, including fellow Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri have rallied in support of Prasad. "Should one be surprised at the deafening silence from the self-styled champions of civil liberties on the blocking of the Twitter handle of Sh @rsprasad Ji, the Law and Justice Minister of the world’s largest democracy? Was this their way of celebrating Emergency Anniversary?" the Aviation Minister tweeted on Friday night.

This incidentally is the first instance of an Union Minister being blocked. Following Prasad's post, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor revealed that he too had faced a similar issue. The IT Minister had called out Twitter over the brazen arbitrariness and running its "own agenda".

While Twitter said that access had been denied for almost an hour because he had violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the minister held that the company had violated the new IT rules. Eventually, Twitter restored access to the account while withholding the post in question. The new IT rules require intermediary or a host of user content to give prior notice before locking access.

(With inputs from agencies)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal