The content in question, sources said, ranges from “blasphemous” to that which “blatantly impinges on India’s security and sovereignty”, and appears to have its origins in Pakistan and could have links to the Pakistan ISI.
Among the portals that have been identified for being taken down include the ‘Naya Pakistan Group’, which runs over 15 channels on YouTube and has a following of more than a million subscribers. Sources said the videos and photographic content disseminated on its platforms includes claims such as: ‘PM Modi concedes defeat in Kashmir; Article 370 restored’, ‘Taliban Army leaves Kabul for India’, ‘Taiyyap Erdogan sends 35,000 mercenaries for Kashmir’, and the ‘Turk Army enters Ayodhya Ram Mandir to Take revenge’, all of which were seen by the ministry as a “concerted effort to sow unrest in India”.
The orders for the immediate takedown of the offensive propagandist content were taken by invoking Section 16 of the IT Rules, the emergency clause which permits the I&B ministry to block content that is considered “necessary or expedient and justifiable to block”.
The orders, sources said, were a “first step by the ministry” and were conveyed to YouTube’s India and Global offices. The social media platform is also learnt to have confirmed compliance and is likely to block the channels identified by the ministry within 24 to 48 hours.
As per the IT Rules, the ministry’s interim orders to DoT and YouTube will also have to be ratified at a meeting of the Inter-Departmental Government Committee (IGC) within 48 hours. Since the notification of the IT Rules in February this year, this will also be the first time when the IGC will meet.
Government sources said that while the ministry of electronics and information technology has been identifying and acting against individual used-generated content, this is the first time the I&B ministry has taken punitive action under the IT Rules.