Twitter faces new headache in India after occupied Kashmir, Ladakh shown separate on map

Published June 29, 2021
The complaint accuses Twitter's India boss Manish Maheshwari and another company executive of breaching the country's IT rules. — AFP/File
The complaint accuses Twitter's India boss Manish Maheshwari and another company executive of breaching the country's IT rules. — AFP/File

A Hindu hardline group has filed a complaint with police against Twitter's country head after politically sensitive regions were depicted outside a map of India on its website, kickstarting an investigation in a fresh headache for the US tech firm.

A map on Twitter's careers page showed occupied Jammu and Kashmir region as well as the Buddhist enclave of Ladakh outside India.

That provoked an outcry on social media this week that comes amid strained relations between Twitter and New Delhi over the firm's compliance with India's new IT rules.

Read: India to Twitter: Comply with IT rules or face 'unintended consequences'

The complaint accuses Twitter's India boss Manish Maheshwari and another company executive of breaching the country's IT rules as well as laws designed to prevent enmity and hatred between classes.

“This has hurt my sentiments and those of the people of India,” Praveen Bhati, a leader of the group Bajrang Dal in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said in the complaint which was reviewed by Reuters. He also called it an act of treason.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

As of Tuesday, the map was no long visible on its site.

Maheshwari was only this month summoned by police in Uttar Pradesh for failing to stop the spread of a video that allegedly incited religious discord. Maheshwari has won relief from a court in that case.

India's technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has criticised Twitter for its failure to abide by new Indian rules and for denying him access to his Twitter account.

To comply with rules that came into effect in May, companies such as Twitter must appoint a chief compliance officer, a grievance officer and another executive who will liaise with law enforcement and the government on legal requests. LinkedIn job postings show the three positions are open at Twitter.

A senior government official has previously told Reuters that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as an intermediary or the host of user content in India due to its failure to comply with the new IT rules.

Activists say, however, it is a matter for the courts to decide.

Last year, the head of an Indian parliamentary panel accused Twitter of disrespecting New Delhi's sovereignty, after mapping data showed Indian occupied territory as part of China in what the social media firm said was a quickly resolved mistake.

Growing tension with New Delhi has discouraged US big tech firms about prospects for their largest growth market, so much so that some are rethinking expansion plans.

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