On Monday, the Cyberabad Cyber Crime Police registered a criminal case against a Twitter user for allegedly sharing ‘fake news’ on social media platforms with the ‘intention of disrupting communal harmony’.
The netizen who goes by the name Major Neelam Singh (retd) and ‘theskindoctor13’ as their Twitter handle shared a forged newspaper clipping of a Hyderabad daily, with the headline ‘Cyberabad police bans the sale of oranges in the city'. The clipping also featured a photograph of police officials, including Commissioner VC Sajjanar at a press conference with oranges on their desk.
Captioned as, “Wtf! Is it true @cyberabadpolice ?”, the image mentioned “satire by @theskindoctor13” at the bottom. The account which has over 2.7 lakh followers posted the tweet on April 26, which was liked by 17.1k users and retweeted by 5,572 before being deleted.
A press release from the Cyberabad police stated that the action was taken as the Twitter user mentions Cyberabad police banning the sale and consumption of oranges in the city as the saffron colour of the fruit hurts the sentiments of Muslims.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the same user owns two Twitter and, two Instagram handles as well. Commissioner Sajjanar told the daily that the accused has been traced to Chandigarh and is yet to be contacted.
Meanwhile the ‘Skin Doctor’ shared a tweet stating, “Cyberabad police has filed a case against me for a satire. A satire they perceived as "fake news" despite a disclaimer. How absurd it is! Any lawyer friend who can help me with this? Also, one more request. If anyone can find out the FIR number so that I can proceed accordingly.”
BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga addressed the tweet and responded by writing, "File Online complaint on ur state police website and send copy. Will arrange everything, don't worry."
On the other hand, Twitter has fumed over police not capable of understanding the difference between satire and fake news.
On Saturday, a fruit vendor in Jharkhand's Jamshedpur came under criticism after a Twitter user uploaded pictures of a poster that draped the front of the makeshift stalls.
The poster proclaimed that this was approved by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) as a 'Hindu fruit store'. The poster had also provided a name and contact number -- presumably of the vendor. In the top left corner of the poster is the logo of the organisation.
The VHP incidentally is a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation that was founded in 1964 by RSS leaders MS Golwalkar and SS Apte.
Responding to the tweet, the Jharkhand Police sought a response from the Jamshedpur police. "SSP Jamshedpur and Jamshedpur Police to look into it and do the needful at the earliest," it wrote on Twitter.
Soon, the Jamshedpur Police replied stating that the poster in question had been taken down.
"The Kadma police station is taking preventive action against the concerned shopkeepers under Section 107," it added.
The incident has left netizens divided. While some people appreciated the police's actions, others criticised them, calling it a violation of the individual's Fundamental Rights.