The government and the Department of Telecom (DoT) in particular, are back to doing what they do exceptionally well – banning sites, social media pages, fake accounts.
This time the axe has fallen on 55 Facebook URLs related to Afzal Guru (though according to LightHouse Insights, 35 URLs are still pretty much active). For those of you who are not up to speed with the events, Afzal Guru, accused of waging war on the Indian Sovereign after the December 2001 parliament attacks, was hanged on February 9, 2013 after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy plea petition. The hanging of Afzal Guru has been the cause of much debate in the country and (unfortunately) much unrest in Kashmir. The ban comes in light of the government wanting to prevent further unrest and to ‘bring the situation under control’.
According to Outlook, on the same day when the Afzal Guru URLs were blocked another set of 73 URLs pertaining to Arindam Chaudhari’s IIPM were blocked. The biggest shock in this move was the department’s decision to block the University Grants Commission (UGC) site which declared IIPM to be an unrecognised university. The fact that a private citizen can influence the decision of a government body and push for a series of undemocratic bans is upsetting.
Thankfully, people from all quarters came out and spoke against Arindam Chaudhari and the ban. Twitter, never to be left behind, was abuzz with protests and outrages.
In the past, the government has sought the help of Facebook, Twitter and Google to get rid of hateful content. I think banning websites/social media pages when done to protect the peace in the country is one thing and banning the same so as to suppress honest facts from being unearthed is another. Also, reckless banning goes against the constitutional right of freedom of speech. It is time the government draws out clear laws and sets-up an independent institution that can play the unbiased negotiator between disputes caused by data published online . In any case, the bottom line is that voices mustn’t be suppressed in a dictatorial fashion.
What’s your take on the government’s decision to ban without probe?
Top Image Courtesy | livemint