U.S.-based minority advocacy groups blocked on X in India

Hindus for Human Rights and the Indian American Muslim Council, two U.S.-based advocacies on minority and caste issues in India, have been blocked on X

Updated - October 16, 2023 11:36 pm IST

Published - October 16, 2023 05:13 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Image used for representative purpose only.

Image used for representative purpose only. | Photo Credit: AP

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), two U.S.-based non-profits that frequently criticise Indian political leaders’ record on minority and caste rights issues in India, have had their accounts on X withheld in India, with the blocking taking place on Sunday. X is the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. A message on the platform says that their handles were suspended following a “legal demand”. 

It is unclear who issued the order at this time. The Hindu has reached out to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for comment. The two non-profits’ Facebook pages continue to be accessible from India. While X is fighting a case in the Karnataka High Court on what it says is the Indian government’s excessive Internet blocking orders, it has largely complied with most blocking orders from the IT Ministry. 

HfHR co-founder Raju Rajagopal told The Hindu that the non-profit was in touch with U.S. government officials on the blocking, and that it had “set the ball rolling” on challenging the action legally in India. IAMC was not immediately available for comment.

The New Delhi-based Internet Freedom Foundation hit out at the government’s methods. “Of late, we have seen an increase in the instances of entire accounts being blocked on Twitter in India,” the IFF said in a statement. “This is a disproportionate measure, and may be potentially unconstitutional. Further, in nearly all cases, copies of the blocking orders are not made available publicly or even to the owners of the Twitter account. This lack of transparency is illegal, and perpetuates an environment of zero accountability.” 

The IAMC frequently shares reported instances of violations of Indian Muslims’ rights, such as incendiary speeches by politicians, violence against places of worship, and police abuses. HfHR has been one of the organisations advocating for an explicit prohibition of discrimination on the basis of caste, resulting in a Bill that was vetoed by the State (California) Governor, Gavin C. Newsom. 

BJP leaders have reacted to IAMC and HfHR’s advocacy with accusations of foreign interference. For instance, Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani raised former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s “links” with HfHR during his U.S. visit, saying that the organisations receive funding from George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist whose progressive Open Societies Foundations has been a frequent target of the Indian right. 

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