Raipur-based journalist files FIR against Facebook India's public policy director for 'inciting communal animosity'

The FIR against Facebook India's public policy director Ankhi Das was filed by journalist Awesh Tiwari, who is named in a separate FIR filed by Das in Delhi

FP Staff August 18, 2020 15:49:53 IST
Raipur-based journalist files FIR against Facebook India's public policy director for 'inciting communal animosity'

The public policy director of Facebook India, Ankhi Das, along with two others, has been named in a first information report filed by Raipur-based journalist Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.

The Chhattisgarh Police has said that the FIR was registered in Raipur based on the complaint of Awesh Tiwari, who is the state bureau chief of a local news channel, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

As per The Quint, the FIR has alleged that Das had “pressured her employees to not take down several hate speech posts prior to the Lok Sabha elections.” This was done “to make political gains in the Indian market.”

The other two named in the FIR are Ram Sahu, a resident of Mungeli in Chhattisgarh, and Indore resident Vivek Sinha. An investigation is underway and further action will be taken accordingly, Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Yadav told PTI.

All three have been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 295(a) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 505(1)(c) (with intent to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit an offence against any other class or community), 506 (criminal intimidation), 500 (defamation) and 34 (common intention), he said.

Ankhi Das is Facebook's Director, Public Policy, India, South, and Central Asia.

Tiwari lodged the case after he was named in a complaint by Das to Delhi Police, alleging that she had been receiving threats to her life through online posts.

In the FIR, Tiwari alleged that on 16 August he had put up a post on his Facebook account related to an article published in The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ reported that Facebook refused to apply hate speech rules to certain BJP politicians, while the social media giant has asserted that its policies are enforced globally without regard to political affiliation.

According to Tiwari, he had put up a post on Facebook on Sunday after the WSJ report. “There were comments over the facts of the story, which was published in the newspaper,” read his complaint, accessed by Hindustan Times.

He further said: "Two Facebook users, with names Sahu and Sinha, jumped in to defend Das and commented on his (Tiwari's) post that she (Das) is a Hindu and she is talking in the interest of the faith. Sahu then allegedly posted derogatory and communally sensitive photographs and also threatened him."

Tiwari also said he had been receiving threat messages and calls on WhatsApp after his post, claiming to “destroy” him.

He alleged that Das, Sahu, and Sinha were trying to defame him by spreading religious hatred due to which his life is under threat and he is living in constant fear.

The journalist has also submitted screenshots of the threat messages received on his mobile phone to the police.

On Monday, the Delhi Police had registered a case based on a complaint by Das, where she said that has been receiving "violent threat to her life", officials said. In her complaint, Das alleged that several people were issuing "threats, making sexually coloured remarks and defaming her" through online posts.

Tiwari has denied the allegations that Das has levelled against him in the FIR in Delhi. He told The Quint that he had never contacted Das nor has he ever threatened against her.

“I do not know why I have been named in the complaint. I got to know about it from other colleagues. This is a very important issue and I had simply posted points from the report that was originally published by the Wall Street Journal,” Tiwari told The Quint.

With inputs from PTI

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