He tweeted, “As a common man, I join the protest against crackdown on freedom of speech! Have changed my DP. ‘Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan.’#GOIBlocks”
#GOIBlocks was a topic trending on Twitter almost whole of yesterday, criticising the central government’s move to block over 300 web pages.
Modi’s move comes at a time when there is a growing chorus online against the government’s decision to get several URLs and Twitter handles blocked on the pretext of banning inflammatory content. The clampdown on social media started after the exodus of the people of Northeast from cities like Bangalore, Pune and Chennai after receiving death threats from certain groups post Assam riots.
Modi is among the first few leaders to speak against the government’s actions in the face of impending danger to citizens from northeast India. Previously, BJP had spoken out against the ruling party’s decision to block the Twitter handles of some journalists. The spokesman for BJP Maharashtra, Madhav Bhandari, had said that the country was at the face of an “Emergency-like situation.”
The government is facing a lot of flak from various sections of the society as it tries to curb internet freedom in order to stop hate messages targeting northeast Indians. Bhandari said this drive was a tool to silence those who speak against the Congress-led government. He called this move the “murder of liberty and right of free political speech.”
Earlier in the day, it was reported that the Twitter account of Milind Deora, the minister of state for communications and information technology, has been suspended. It is not clear whether this happened due to some technical glitch, hacking or as part of the government’s crackdown on social media.
Another speculation doing rounds is that the account may have been reported to Twitter as being a ‘fake’ or ‘parody’ account, leading to its suspension.
However, Deora told a prominent daily that his account is getting verified, hence has been temporarily suspended.
On Thursday, Deora had defended the Congress-led UPA government’s efforts to block hate content on the internet on the microblogging site. His comments received a lot of flak from netizens, with many terming it a ‘lie’ and questioning the intentions of the government.