Many tweets and YouTube videos of the documentary titled "India: The Modi Question" no longer appear on the microblogging and video-sharing websites.
The centre has ordered Twitter and YouTube to take down links of a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people with direct knowledge of the matter have said.
Many tweets and YouTube videos of the documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” no longer appear on the microblogging and video-sharing websites.
The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry told the two social media giants to block the first episode of the documentary by BBC, people familiar with the matter said, a day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the documentary series, saying he “doesn’t agree with the characterisation” of his Indian counterpart in the UK’s parliament by Pakistan-origin MP Imran Hussain.
The ministry told Twitter to remove over 50 tweets on the documentary by Britain’s national broadcaster, the people said.
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien was among some opposition leaders whose tweet on the documentary was removed by Twitter.
“Censorship. Twitter has taken down my tweet of the BBC documentary. It received lakhs of views. The one-hour BBC documentary exposes how PM hates minorities,” Mr O’Brien alleged.
The I&B Ministry gave the order to take down the links using emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, and both YouTube and Twitter have agreed to follow the order, people with knowledge of the matter said.
India has called the documentary a “propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset.
The centre has also told YouTube and Twitter to take down fresh links of the documentary if some people upload or tweet them again, sources said.
Officials of several ministries including home and foreign, apart from I&B, have examined the documentary closely and found it to be an attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court, sow divisions among communities in India and make unsubstantiated allegations on actions of foreign governments in India, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
A Supreme Court-appointed investigation had found no evidence of wrongdoing by PM Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots broke out in February 2002.
Yesterday, while shutting down the Pakistan-origin MP who raised the documentary in the British parliament, Prime Minister Sunak, the son-in-law of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, said, “The UK government’s position on this has been clear and long-standing and hasn’t changed, of course, we don’t tolerate persecution where it appears anywhere but I am not sure I agree at all with the characterization that the honourable gentleman has put forward to.”
The directions to block the first episode of the BBC Documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ were reportedly issued by the Information and Broadcasting Secretary on Friday using emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. What are these powers?
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued directions to block the first episode of the BBC Documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’ on YouTube, informed sources said on Saturday (January 21). The social media platform Twitter was asked to block more than 50 tweets containing the links of the video on YouTube, the sources said.
The directions were reportedly issued by the Information and Broadcasting Secretary on Friday using emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021. Both YouTube and Twitter have complied with the directions, the sources said.
What are these emergency powers?
Rule 16 of the IT Rules, 2021 — formally known as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 — notified on February 25, 2021, describes the government’s power with regard to “Blocking of information in case of emergency”.
The Rule says that “In case of emergency nature, the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may, if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable for blocking for public access of any information or part thereof through any computer resource and…as an interim measure issue such directions as he may consider necessary to such identified or identifiable persons, publishers or intermediary in control of such computer resource hosting such information or part thereof without giving him an opportunity of hearing.”
Such orders may be passed on certain specified grounds including national security and public order.
What has the government said about the documentary?
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has rejected the documentary produced by BBC as a “propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset. The documentary was not made available in India by BBC, but it was available on YouTube for some time.
Sources said that senior officials of ministries including the MEA, Home, and I&B have examined the documentary and found it to be an attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sow divisions among various Indian communities, and make unsubstantiated allegations regarding actions of foreign governments in India.
The documentary was accordingly found to be undermining sovereignty and integrity of India, and having the potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign states as also public order within the country, the sources said.
Courtesy Scroll.in/Indian Express