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As pressure builds on India's Narendra Modi, is his government trying to silence its critics?

“First in the world ‘24/7’ crematorium launched by Modi Govt in India”.

As pressure builds on India's Narendra Modi, is his government trying to silence its critics?

“First in the world ‘24/7’ crematorium launched by Modi Govt in India”.

As pressure builds on India's Narendra Modi, is his government trying to silence its critics?

“First in the world ‘24/7’ crematorium launched by Modi Govt in India”.

As pressure builds on India's Narendra Modi, is his government trying to silence its critics?

“First in the world ‘24/7’ crematorium launched by Modi Govt in India”.

“First in the world ‘24/7’ crematorium launched by Modi Govt in India”.
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Usha M. Rodrigues, Deakin University

As COVID-19 ravages India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is becoming increasingly draconian in its crackdown on social media, particularly when it comes to any criticism of its response.

Cries of help and outbursts of anger have been spilling out on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms since the second wave began to worsen in recent weeks. Indians are using hashtags such as #ModiMadeDisaster and #ModiFailsIndia to place the blame directly on the government — and Modi himself — as the human tragedy unfolds.

In one Twitter post, for instance, a photo of burning pyres is accompanied by the tagline, “First in the world ‘24/7’ crematorium launched by Modi Govt in India”.

Another hashtag, #ResignModi, was spreading across Facebook this week before posts containing it mysteriously disappeared for several hours. Facebook told BuzzFeed News the posts were temporarily hidden by “mistake” and not because the Indian government asked the company to do it.

But the government has been taking a harder line on any social media content it finds objectionable, with the purported aim of preventing the spread of misinformation and sparking panic. Opponents are concerned its true objective is to stifle criticism and dissent.

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