In a circular made public Tuesday, the District Magistrate of Kupwara has asked people in the district to get “WhatsApp news groups” registered with his office “within ten days”.
It has also directed “government employees working in the district” to “restrain from making any comment/remarks with regard to the policies and decisions of the government on these WhatsApp groups”. “If anyone is found involved in such activities, strict action will be initiated against them as required under rules,” states the circular.
The directive comes a day after the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir called for registration of “social media news agencies” to “curb rumour mongering”.
“It is impressed upon all admins of WhatsApp news groups of the district to get the registration of these WhatsApp news groups in the office (of the DM) within ten days,” reads the circular, issued by District Magistrate, Kupwara, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan.
It also said “group admins will be responsible for all posts on their groups and any irresponsible remarks/deals leading to untoward incidents will be dealt under law”.
The Additional District Informatics Officer has bee deputed as the in charge of the “District Social Media Centre” for registration of these groups, and to “keep vigil on the activities of these WhatsApp news groups” and bring any issues “to the notice of the district administration”.
The circular does not define what the government means by “WhatsApp news groups”. It also does not mention how these groups would be monitored and how the government will come to know about the groups that don’t register. WhatsApp, incidentally, just announced encryption on its messaging service.
Ranjan’s decision has come after Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asghar Samoon asked district magistrates to register “social media news pages”, referring to Facebook pages that upload news content. He also warned of action against “violators”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines