India 'took its eye off the ball with coronavirus' says expert
Appearing on last night’s episode of BBC Newsnight, BJP’s national spokesman, Gopal Agarwal, accused people of creating “panic out of the crisis”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP Government has been accused of censorship by ordering social media sites to block posts critical of its handling of the spike in coronavirus cases and deaths.
On Saturday, Twitter said it took down dozens of tweets in India that were critical of the government’s recent pandemic response.
Emily Maitlis, host of the programme, cited multiple examples of MPs and journalists in India criticising the Government for its Covid response which in posts removed from social media.
In response, Mr Agarwal said: “Your information is completely incorrect.
“One thing I’ll tell you is that there were many instances, of which have been pointed out by the Government, where the same words, the same sentences and the same multiple sentences were being copied and transmitted and tweeted from different (accounts).”
Ms Maitlis interjected to question the spokesman on how “you can handle criticism, can’t you?”
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Apar Gupta, executive director of New Delhi-based digital-rights organization Internet Freedom Foundation, said the social media materials appeared to be blocked under section 69A of India’s Information Technology Act.
The law allows New Delhi to block material that threatens national security.
He told the Wall Street Journal: “Our main concern is the secrecy in the censorship.
“Any legal order for directing blocking of websites should contain reasoning and be made public.
“Neither of these steps are being carried out right now.”
As of yesterday, India has administered at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to around 8.5 percent of its population.
According to the World Health Organisation, 130,027,370 vaccine doses have been administered in India as of April 20.
Yesterday saw another 362,902 new cases and 3,285 new deaths recorded, marking the seventh day in a row cases reached over 300,000.
In total, India has suffered 17,988,637 cases, the second most in the world, and 201,165 deaths, the fourth highest worldwide.