The I&B ministry said on Tuesday it ordered the blocking of apps, websites and social media accounts of foreign based ‘Punjab Politics TV’, which had close links with Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), an outfit that was declared unlawful under UAPA.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting blocked applications, website and social media accounts of foreign based ‘Punjab Politics TV’, which is linked to banned organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), for allegedly attempting to use an online platform to disturb public order during the ongoing Assembly polls in the Indian state of Punjab.
This is the third instance of the I&B ministry taking down offensive content. In December last year, the ministry had invoked, for the first time, the emergency clause of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, to block 20 YouTube channels and two websites.
The SFJ has been declared unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. In a statement the ministry said, Intelligence inputs had indicated that the channel was trying to use online media to disrupt public order during the 2022 Assembly elections. The Ministry therefore used emergency powers under the IT Rules on February 18 to block the digital media resources of ‘Punjab Politics TV’, it said.
The ministry noted that the content of the blocked apps, websites and social media accounts had the potential to incite communal disharmony, separatism and were found to be detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, and public order.
“It was also observed that the launch of new apps and social media accounts was timed to gain traction during the ongoing elections.
“Government of India remains vigilant and committed to secure the overall information environment in India and thwart any actions having the potential to undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity,” the statement said.
Assembly polls were held in Punjab on February 20 and the results are expected to be declared on March 10.
US-based SFJ leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is already under the scanner and has been declared as an “individual terrorist” under the fourth schedule of UAPA. His properties in Punjab have also been attached. A chargesheet filed by the NIA in December 2020 against Pannun, UK-based Paramjit Singh Pamma and Canada-based Hardeep Singh Nijjar stated that SFJ, floated in the garb of ‘Human Rights advocacy group’ with its offices in various foreign countries such as the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, etc., is a frontal organisation of Khalistani terrorist groups operating from foreign soil, including Pakistan.