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Row over directive against anti-government social media posts in Bihar

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Patna, Jan 22, 2021-
The Bihar government has directed the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) to act against those organisations and individuals posing objectionable contents on social media against public representatives and government officials.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) has directed the EOW through a circular to closely monitor content on social media and act on the complaints lodged by public representatives and government officials.

The state government has acted on the letter sent by ADG EOW Nayyar Hasnain Khan to all secretaries and the CMO office. In the letter Khan said some individuals continuously post offensive and derogatory remarks against MLAs, MPs, MLCs, Ministers and government officials.

In the last few weeks, CM Nitish Kumar and other ministers of his government have been rattled with posts on social media by ordinary people questioning their decisions.

Manoj Jha, chief spokesperson of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) said that this is a “Tuglaki Farman” of Nitish Kumar government.

“When I saw papers of this act, it came to my mind to congratulate the Nitish Kumar government for turning out to be like the Taliban. It is absolutely against the freedom of speech. If anyone asks questions from you, your government sends them to jail,” alleged Jha.

It may be recalled that the Bihar Press Bill of 1982 had invited widespread criticism in an attempt to muzzle the media. The contentious Bill was withdrawn after a year.

Retaliating to Jha’s charges, former minister and JDU spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said: “Social media platforms have been misused against public representatives and officials for years. People have used abusive and unparliamentary language against them which is not acceptable. It is time to apply brakes on it.”

Nikhil Anand, chief spokesperson of BJP Bihar unit said: “Though officials of concerned departments may clarify about the circular in a better way but there is no doubt about the misuse of social media to defame public representatives and government officials. There are many examples of character assassination. There are regulatory guidelines required for social media use. People cannot defame anyone in the garb of freedom of speech.” (Agency)

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