Indian-Origin Man In UK Allegedly Incited Communities In Manipur, Case Filed

An Indian-origin man who teaches in a UK university has been charged with allegedly inciting people in ethnic violence-hit Manipur with his online messages and talk sessions on a social media platform, according to a police complaint filed in the state capital Imphal. The police complaint alleged the accused may be linked with Khalistani elements in Canada.

The first information report (FIR) filed by a local resident alleged that the accused, identified as Uday Reddy, a Computer Science professor in the University of Birmingham, has been working online to create tension between communities on religious grounds in Manipur.

“The accused person deliberately with malicious intention insulted the Meitei’s religious beliefs and promoted enmity between the Meiteis and other communities on religious ground,” the complainant said in the FIR filed with a police station in Imphal East district.

Calls to the University of Birmingham’s computer science department went unanswered. Mr Reddy has not given a statement on the matter to the press yet.

The police said the complainant told them Mr Reddy has been hosting audio discussions on social media and directing people in Manipur how to create trouble against law enforcement personnel in Manipur.

On X (formerly Twitter), a notice on Mr Reddy’s profile page shows the account has been “withheld in India in response to a legal demand.” X policy states that such action is usually taken on a court order.

“The unlawful activities of the accused person and his associates amounts to anti-national activities that challenged the integrity and sovereignty of India, and is fit to be dealt with under the relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” the complainant said in the FIR.

“As there is a high possibility of the accused being linked with Khalistanis in Canada… and with narco-terrorist groups… the call records of the accused, financial activities… may kindly be investigated,” the FIR said.

The complainant in the FIR requested Indian authorities to contact Mr Reddy’s workplace and inform them about the “criminal acts committed by him against India”, adding a lookout circular (LOC) to monitor entry and exit points in India should be issued. An LOC is used to prevent anyone with a criminal record or wanted in an investigation from leaving India.

This is not the first time the account of a professor abroad has been withheld by X over a legal demand in India. The X account of Sweden-based Indian-origin professor Ashok Swain, a fierce critic of the Indian government’s policies, was withheld in August 2023.

A huge narrative battle has been raging on social media since May 2023 when ethnic violence broke out between the valley-dominant Meitei community and nearly two dozen tribes known as Kuki – a term given by the British in colonial times – who are dominant in some hill areas of Manipur.

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud in December 2023 had also raised concerns over an overwhelming barrage of speech that distorts the truth with the advent of troll armies and organised disinformation campaigns across social media platforms.

“Traditionally, freedom of speech and expression was deemed to be an essential part of civil rights activism because of the fear that the government would prevent certain kinds of speech from entering the marketplace,” Chief Justice Chandrachud had said at the 14th Justice VM Tarkunde memorial lecture.

“With the advent of troll armies and organised disinformation campaigns across different social media platforms, the fear is that there is an overwhelming barrage of speech that distorts the truth,” the Chief Justice had said.

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