What Happened: An Indian man in the Uttar Pradesh state is being prosecuted for trying to arrange oxygen for his grandfather dying, through Twitter.
State officers have charged Shashank Yadav with spreading a ‘rumor’ over oxygen shortages ‘with intent to cause fear or alarm’. Mr. Yadav did not mention COVID-19 in his tweet, however he could face jail time over this. Officers say that the ‘false tweet’ had encouraged other people to make false allegations against the government, as criminal charges were pressed against Mr. Yadav.
The State of Uttar Pradesh: In an unforgivingly deadly brutal second wave that India faces, the state of UP is one of the worst affected. Their Chief Minister, Yogi Adyanath has been accused of underplaying the severity of the wave’s impact on the state by critics. Last week, the right-wing ally of PM Narindra Modi demanded that the property of anyone spreading rumors or ‘propaganda’ about COVID-19 be seized.
A report has stated that the COVID-19 infection and death numbers are being highly understated. It is said that the numbers being reported in reports are very different from the on ground reality on purpose by the government.
Reaction: After Mr. Yadav’s plea on Twitter, he was retweeted plenty of times till his tweet was amplified enough. His grandfather died of a heart attack and it remains unclear whether there were any COVID-19 related complications.
Many have called his prosecution and the case against him a breach of freedom of security and digital rights.
Critics say that the arrest reflects the government policy of hiding the scope of the situation and erosion of civil liberties for the past few years.