Dalit activists have started a campaign demanding they get their rightful place on the platform
The fight of the Bahujan community against Twitter, the micro-blogging platform has just gained steam. The #BhimArmy has locked the Twitter India office in Mumbai.
This action comes after Twitter blocked the account of Bahujan thinker and Professor Dilip Mandal, in line with which Dalit activism took a digital turn against ‘casteist’ Twitter.
It began when Dilip Mandal accused Twitter of not verifying his account for he was a Dalit. Mandal who works as a columnist with The Print took on the microblogging site saying that they had verified the owner Shekhar Gupta’s handle because he was an ‘upper caste baniya’. He referred to the blue tick as a ‘neeli janeu’ which separates the high caste from the low castes.
While Twitter did give him a blue tick, verifying his account, Mandal said, he wasn’t looking for a blue tick himself, but wanted to raise the fact that Twitter has upper and lower caste divisions.
Saying that were lakhs of Twitter accounts which were verified, but there weren’t even 100 intellectuals, writers or others from the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Classes that had been verified by Twitter.
This is when the #BhimArmy joined the protest against Brahminical Twitter and gheraoed its India office accusing the officials of discrimination. Twitter had locked Mandal and even Wasim Akram Tyagi, another journalist, out of their accounts.
Dilip had earlier run a campaign against Twitter India Head Manish Maheshwari for being a casteist bigot and worked relentless to trend the hashtag #SackManishMaheshwari.
The protest attended by members Ashok Kamble, Sunil Gaikwad, Varsha Kamble and Madhu Pawar among others, saw them give an ultimatum to the Twitter officials saying that they would not let this discriminatory attitude last any longer.
Locking the Twitter India office in an act of resistance, the Bhim Army members explained that though they didn’t want to take the move, the action was necessary keeping in mind the treatment meted out to the lower caste members by the website.
It is reported that Twitter officials have agreed to a dialogue with the members of the Bhim Army.
The movement against #CasteistTwitter started by Prof Mandal gained a lot of traction and members from other Dalit activists and even some politicians.
Last year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had posed with ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’ poster which got him into quite a soup later.
The caste conflict in the Indian society has deep roots for political and social reasons. We think Prof Dilip Mandal’s request is a fair ask. Twitter has seen the verification of lakhs of accounts from different strata but somewhere dissenting voices, the ones who do not see eye-to-eye with the government have failed to get recognition on the social media platform.
It’s sad to see that in this day and age, when caste politics is at an all-time high, it has also pervaded through social media which is supposed to be a neutral platform, away from discrimination where one is free to voice their views.
In this age where now the fight for rights has gone digital, is this the beginning of a turn-around where the ones left behind, even on social media, will get their due?
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