New Delhi, August 24: Government of India has started a rampant exercise to impose ban on internet media. The Ministry of Communications & IT has sent four directives to Internet Service Providers between 18 August and 21 August 2012 asking them to ‘immediately block’ scores of URLs of websites, blogs and social media sites.
This indiscreet act of the Government might be on concerns that communal tensions were being fanned in the wake of the unrest following violence in the border districts of Assam. After protests in Mumbai turned violent on August 18, the government had said that hate content was being spread through the Internet by groups in Pakistan. Interestingly no Pakistan website has been named in those hasty directives of the Ministry.
Government Directives for Ban
The letters are addressed to all Internet Service Providers and not to actual social media sites. This shows that the government has not actually requested to Facebook or Twitter at all.
In its four directives, which were sent to all Internet Service Providers, the Ministry of Communications & IT has asked them to immediately block 310 URLs. (FB-86, Google Plus-4, Youtube-73, Blogs-15, Twitter-28, Human Rights- 1, Others (Media houses, websites, Defence related) – 103). These URLs consists links of Facebook accounts, Youtube videos, Twitter accounts. Also personal blogs and websites are in the list of ban.
Media Targeted too
Surprisingly, the Government wants to block URLs of prominent Media houses such as Times of India, Firstpost.com, The Telegraph, Al Jazeera etc. Unfortunately no media house has raised its voice against Government action and expressed anger as its right to free speech, right to expression and press freedom has been violated.
Through the directives, the Government has tried to silent voice of two prominent Journalists. Twitter accounts columnist Kanchan Gupta and television journalist Shiv Aroor are among those that have been blocked.
Kanchan Gupta has termed action on his Twitter account as, “a political vendetta”. In his interview to a News Site, Gupta said that he has been consistent in criticism of the Congress, the PM and government. He has further said that blocking his Twitter account is a political decision.
Directives pacifying Muslims?
It seems that the directives try to pacify Muslims by balancing in blocking websites which support both communities. But the real picture is the websites which the Government considers Saffron and that’s why harmful are actually sites which encourage patriotism and message of solidarity.
In his blog, former head of RAW, B. Raman comments on odd features in Governments directives that none of them was typed on an official letterhead, none of them carried the stamp of the issuing Department.
The directives only say that it has been decided to block these accounts. It does not quote any sections of the IT Act or any other law under which the decision to block the websites has been taken.
The blocked twitter accounts include Dosabandit (@dosabandit), Eagle Eye (@eagleeye47), Twitanic (@anilkohli54), Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape), Sumeet (@sumeetcj), Barbarian Indian (@barbarindian), Scamsutra (@scamsutra), Ekakizunj (@ekakizunj) and redditindia (@redditindia) along with Panchajanya (@i_panchajanya) Pravin Togadia (DrPravinTogadia), Sangh Parivar (@sanghpariwar).
Funnier side is that magazine Panchajanya’s official twitter account has been given on their website. However, without even primary verification, some leading newspapers have declared that the account of ‘Panchjanya magazine’ has been banned.
Why ban on patriotic websites?
Similarly, Facebook account and website of India Army Fans is in the list of Ban. It is impossible to digest the mindset behind blocking websites which encourage patriotism. This thoughtless act clearly showcases the mindset of current Congress led UPA Government to silence the raising voices of nationality which can be harmful for the people in Power.
Government’s baffled act
Criticizing Government’s baffled act, former head of RAW, B. Raman points out that while the Islamic sites carry on vicious, provocative propaganda, the Hindus and Hindu entities targeted by the Government do not do so. They merely counter the pernicious propaganda of the Islamic fundamentalists. The Government has sought to silence them too by targeting them, says Raman.