Indian Twitter account falls silent after police complaint

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An anonymous Twitter handle which built up a wide following for its salacious gossip about India's elite fell silent Friday after a woman journalist complained to police over a series of sexually offensive posts.

The broadcaster and author Swati Chaturvedi said she had decided to take action against the @LutyensInsider account after it posted a series of slurs and accusations linking her to opposition leader Rahul Gandhi.

"I first laughed (at the posts) then tried to ignore them and finally decided I had to act against the disgusting slander," Ms Chaturvedi told AFP.

"The posts may have been hurriedly deleted but I am confident that the investigators will soon reveal the harasser's true identity," she added.

Lutyens Insider, named after the upmarket area of New Delhi which is home to many of India's movers and shakers, has around 40,000 followers, making it one of the country's most popular Twitter accounts.

But Ms Chaturvedi's decision to no longer put up with what she described as persistent "character assassination" was widely applauded by her colleagues on social media.

"More power to (Swati) for a legal case against vicious slander. Most of us, women especially, seethe with rage & then dont follow through," tweeted the broadcaster Barkha Dutt.

"Well done Swati. You are brave and diligent...for taking out time to do this," Ms Smita Prakash, news editor of the Delhi-based Asian News International (ANI), said on Twitter.

Ms Chaturvedi said one of the reasons for taking actions was that she wanted to prevent Twitter from becoming another vehicle to harass women in India which has a gruesome recent history of sexual violence.

"Women get molested on the streets of India.. Are we going to have the same thing virtually as well?" she said.

"This is why I am committed to taking this case to its logical conclusion, which is, the individual behind this account going to jail." While police have confirmed they received the complaint, they have made no announcement about any arrests.

Amid speculation about his identity, @LutyenInsider has now deleted all the offending posts and changed the name of the account.

With India's traditional media rarely reporting on the private lives of politicians, the gossip spun by Lutyens Insider and other similar accounts such as @LutyensSpice and @LutyensMasala has been eagerly lapped up.