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No Assam mention in most blocked sites

The government has since ordered the blocking of 65 more web pages,taking the total to 310

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi |
August 22, 2012 1:57:41 am

Out of the 245 web pages that the government had blocked till Monday,not more than one-fifth contained any reference to the people of the Northeast or the recent violence in Assam,indicating that the role of Pakistan’s internet users in creating the hate atmosphere that caused people of the Northeast to flee home from cities like Bangalore,Chennai and Pune could be exaggerated.

So far only a couple of the blocked web pages have been found to contain images or videos — genuine or morphed — of the recent violence in Assam,said a government source.

Less than 50 web pages have references to these clashes and contain hate messages against people of the Northeast. And almost all these references and incitement against people of the Northeast have come from internet users in India,according to the information with the government.

The government has since ordered the blocking of 65 more web pages,taking the total to 310.

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While most of the inflammatory content on the blocked web pages is indeed learnt to have been posted by Pakistan’s internet community,this content has little connection to what has been going on in Assam. Most of these web pages talk about the perceived persecution of the Muslim community in Myanmar. Through morphed images and doctored videos,these web pages seek to present a mischievous situation of oppression of Muslims in the region.

Most of these postings have been made by fake names and user accounts created in July,during which clashes,unrelated to each other,took place in both Myanmar and Assam. A section of internet users in India used this coincidence to spread hatred against people of the Northeast,the source said.

In the last few days,however,the Pakistan connection to the entire episode has been played up by the government,with Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde taking up the issue with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik over telephone. Home Secretary R K Singh even spoke of sharing evidence with Pakistan to establish India’s case. Singh today spoke to Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai as well to inform him on the issue.

The main scare to the people of the Northeast actually came from text and multimedia messages on cellphones. While some people have been arrested in Karnataka and Maharashtra,government officials said more arrests are likely.

Fresh information has revealed that a couple of these web pages have domain names similar to the names of two Pakistani political groups — Jamaat-e-Islami and former cricketer Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf party — though it was not clear whether these parties had any association with these pages.

Meanwhile,a Home Ministry official said New Delhi was likely to approach the US government officially in order to get more information from Google,Facebook and Twitter — the three web platforms being used to spread inflammatory content. All these three internet companies are based in US.

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