New Delhi: The Government of India (GoI) has ordered restricting public access to two Kashmir-related websites and 20 YouTube channels and blocking them on the grounds of “national security of India”.
The Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Secretary Apurva Chandra issued two separate orders for blocking the two websites, Kashmir Global and Kashmir Watch.
The 20 YouTube channels include – The Khalsa Tv, Fictional, Go Global, Kaneez Fatima, Zain Ali Official, Mian Imran, Najam Ul Hassan, Bajwa, Sadaf Durrani, Official, The Naked Truth, Punch Line, International Web News, News 24, 48 news, Historical Facts, Punjab Viral, Naya Pakistan Global and Cover Story, etc., the GoI listed.
The sites and the channels were detrimental to the “national security and integrity of the country and fall under the ambit of the IT rules,” Chandra said.
The ministry said the websites and channels mentioned belong to a coordinated disinformation network operated from Pakistan. The network is circulating fake news about various subjects sensitive to the country.
They have published divisive content in an organised manner on topics related to the Union Territory, the Indian Army, international relations, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat, and so forth, it said.
“They also posted content related to the farmers’ protest, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, NRC, with intentions to incite the minorities against the Government of India,” the ministry added.
According to the Hindustan Times, this is the first time the ministry of India has invoked the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The power has been utilized under Rule 16 of the Act. Earlier, only the ministry of electronics and information technology or the telecom department could issue the order under the IT Act and the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951, respectively.
Under the new rules notified in February, the government of India can block public access to news content under section 69(A) in the interest of the ‘nation’s sovereignty, integrity, and safety’.
The secretary holds power to order the content’s takedown with immediate effect immediately.