"Constructive Criticism Only": Nitish Kumar's Damage Control On New Order

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had yesterday ordered the police to act against those who criticise ministers, MLAs, and other officials on social media.

Offensive social media posts have been brought under cybercrime in Bihar now.

Highlights

  • Posts spreading rumours, using "insulting language" would now be targeted
  • State police's Economic Offenses Wing will look into offensive posts
  • Bihar has rarely acted against offensive views, comments on the internet
Patna:

The Bihar government today went into damage-control mode over its order bringing offensive and defamatory social media posts against it, its ministers, and other officials, under the category of cybercrime. The state police today issued a clarification about the move saying that "constructive criticism was welcome" and only posts spreading rumours and using "insulting language" would be targeted.

"Criticism is healthy for democracy. But criticism must be constructive and the language used must fall within the norms of decency," said Jitendra Kumar, Additional Director General Headquarters. "This advisory was issued keeping in mind rumours and factually incorrect information and involving the use of insulting language on social media - these are punishable offences under the IT Act." 

In a sign that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is rattled by criticism on internet platforms, he yesterday ordered the state police's Economic Offenses Wing, the nodal point for such crimes, to report and act against those who make such posts on social media.  

Bihar is one of the few states that have rarely acted against offensive views and comments on the internet. A letter written yesterday by the chief of the Economic Offenses Wing, IG Nayyar Hasnain Khan, to all secretaries of the state government, however, changed things.

"It has come to light that certain persons and organisations have been making defamatory and offensive comments on social media against the government, respected ministers, parliamentarians, legislators, and government officials," IG Khan wrote in the letter.

"This is against prescribed law and comes under the category of cybercrime," he wrote, requesting all officials to inform the Economic Offences Wing about such acts so that the perpetrators could be brought to justice.

Mr Kumar's anger at social media is an open secret. Almost in all his public speeches, be it official or party fora, he calls out instances of disinformation against his government. He also urges his supporters against believing social media posts. However, it is only now that his government has decided to act tough.

Responding to IG Khan's letter, Bihar leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Yadav today called Mr Kumar the "Bheeshm Pitamah" of the corrupt and the "protector of criminals". The RJD leader then tweeted, daring daring the state government to arrest him for his post.