In what may seem like a curb on freedom of expression, the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar-led government has decided to make all defamatory and offensive social media posts against ministers, MPs, MLAs under the purview of cybercrime.
A letter by Nayyar Hasnain Khan, additional director general (ADG), economic offences unit, was issued to all principal secretaries and secretary-rank officials directing them to apprise the EOU of any derogatory posts in order to take “legal action against such persons, groups cab be initiated”.
Khan added such posts vitiate law and order. And that the move will help to curb cyber crime.
Hailing the move Khan said: “Previously, we used to ask the server provider to delete the posts. Now, there can be an investigation and an FIR against the guilty will be lodged”.
The state police welcomed the move saying this will help target those spreading rumors and using “insulting language”, a punishable offences under IT Act. Additional Director General, headquarters, Jitendra Kumar said, “Criticism is healthy for democracy. But criticism must be constructive and the language used must fall within the norms of decency”.
The move comes after the Nitish Kumar government was rattled by criticism on social media, especially due to the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Criticising the move, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav compared Nitish Kumar “hitler” and “Bhishma Pitamaha of corruption” while challenging the CM to arrest him.
Taking to social media, the leader also called Nitish Kumar a “blackmailer” while also accusing RCP Singh, national president of JDU of being corrupt.
Slamming the government, Tejashwi Yadav tweeted: “Protesters cannot protest. Jail if you write against the government. People are not allowed to take their complaints to the opposition leader… Nitish ji, we know that you are completely tired, but have some shame.”
RJD MP and vice-president Manoj Jha also took a dig at the government while terming the move as “tughlaqi”, he said, “This order is anti-democratic and can be misused. After all, who decides if a post is derogatory or not?”.
With such a stringent social post, Bihar will be the third state to act against dissentients following Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.