'Not a Surprise, But Terrifying': At India's Request, Twitter Blocks Posts Critical of Modi Covid Response

“Not a surprise. But terrifying nonetheless.”

That’s how Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein responded Sunday to news that India had requested—and Twitter had agreed—to have numerous tweets critical of the Modi government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic blocked from the popular social media platform.

The Indian news outlet Medianama was the first to report the situation on Saturday, followed by Buzzfeed in U.S. press. According to Medianama‘s reporting by Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru:

Deep and Chunduru confirmed that several people who had their postings blocked were informed by Twitter what was coming ahead of the move and that the decision was based on a request made by the Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In response to request, a Twitter spokesperson sent Medianama the following statement:

India is currently experiencing a serious surge in Covid-19 cases—averaging over 300,000 new daily cases over the last week and oxygen supplies running low and hospitals overwhelmed—as Modi’s handling of the pandemic has come under significant scrutiny from both within the country and from abroad.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, reported Buzzfeed on Saturday,

Rana Ayyub—a journalist who has been writing dispatches from India for the Washington Post, TIME magazine, and other outlets—reacted with scorn Sunday to the latest reports, tweeting:

“I’m sorry,” wrote epidemiologist and health economist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, “but Modi’s authoritarian government can go to hell if they dare to silence the true human suffering” now taking place in India.

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