On June 8, four days after the Narendra Modi government moved legally to , Network 18 terminated his contract. The Wire that he was suspended with “immediate effect”.
Manjul didn’t want to talk about the termination of his contract and our emails and calls to Network 18 spokesperson, Supriya Saxena, and executive editor, Vinay Sarawagi, went unanswered. This report will be updated if a response is received.
Manjul had with Newslaundry after receiving a notice from Twitter alerting him to the government’s demand to act against his account. He was concerned about his livelihood since his clients could now be “scared” to associate with him. “This will impact my clients. I’m on the verge of losing my clients. But I still put this out.”
He had described the notice as “intimidation” but said he would continue to draw cartoons. Ironically, Manjul had created an illustration for about three years ago when fellow cartoonist Satish Acharya cut ties with Mail Today, alleging censorship.
Manjul isn’t the only prominent mediaperson to get a Twitter notice about the government’s demand for action against his account. Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair received an email from Twitter’s legal team on Thursday, the 11th such in the past year.
Speaking to Newslaundry, Zubair said, “I have received two emails from Twitter this month, one was last week and the other yesterday. Out of the 11 emails I received in the last year, most are regarding tweets but last year I got one about my account which is very similar to what Manjul received.”
He explained that most of the tweets that the government had objected to were about him calling out Hindutva supporters for using derogatory terms. “The recent tweet for which I received a notice was actually a factcheck which is the most hilarious thing,” he added.
Talking about the implication of getting such notices, Zubair said he noticed the reach of his tweets would fall substantially for at least a month after the notices were served.
He added, “Once they send an email my Twitter reach gets throttled and the visibility of my tweets goes down. However, because I am very active on Twitter, people start seeing them again regularly after a month or so. I’ve also got many messages from people in the last few days saying that they were following me and all of a sudden they weren’t following me anymore.”
When asked if the constant barrage of emails about his tweets forced him to censor his tweets, Zubair said he’d never deleted a tweet because of the emails. When people get such notices, he added, they usually quickly delete the tweet in question because nobody knows if the government will take action against them if they don't.
“I do not know why the government is forcing Twitter to take action against tweets like ours,” he said. “Perhaps it would be justified if it was related to a very sensitive matter that would be understandable. Actually, they should be promoting my tweet because it is a factcheck.”