The Punjab government has decided to crack down on Sikh websites, internet channels and social media pages “spreading hatred and provoking youngsters to take the path of violence for the cause of Khalistan and other emotive religious issues.”
Punjab Police have asked the Centre to take “necessary steps” to ban the website Sikhchannel.com in India for spreading “hate and seditious material”.
The counter intelligence wing of Punjab Police has been directed by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the home portfolio, to prepare a list of all such websites, channels, Facebook pages and You Tube videos that promote “seditious” content.
Most of these sites, other than exhorting the cause of Khalistan, have provocative pictures and graphic description of what the content handlers of these websites describe as “police atrocities” during the militancy days.
In many such websites, police officers and many political leaders have been referred to as “dogs” and the “biggest” enemies of the “Sikh quam”.
“We have told the department of electronics and information and technology (DIETY) that the channel “Sikhchannel.com” is hosting provocative messages by individuals residing in the UK, Australia and Canada. These individuals are offering lakhs of dollars to those who will kill cops who worked during the days of terrorism and other religious and political leaders of Punjab. This is fuelling unrest and could actually push gullible youngsters on the wrong path,” said a senior police officer.
Since these websites are hosted outside India, the state government had to approach the Union government to ban these. “The report we have sent will be forwarded to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT). It can, ban the website immediately if the contents are dangerous while sending the case to a committee which then goes through the content and recommends a ban or no-ban order. For the time being, Sikhchannel.com is not accessible but the final ban orders are awaited,” added the officer.
The state government is also encouraged by the ban on the Facebook page of ‘Sikhs for Justice’, a US-based human rights group,. which was upheld by a US court on Wednesday.
“Terrorism is not Punjab’s issue alone. No nation can afford to have radical elements spreading hatred and provoking innocent youngsters in the name of religion to indulge in violence. Social media is being misused by radicals and former Punjab terrorists living abroad and we have decided to crack down on their supporters here. Every bit of such content will be erased from the Net,” said Sukhbir.
NRI Sikhs played an important role in organising the radical Sarbat Khalsa on November 10 where the demand for a separate Sikh nation was reiterated. With more than one website live streaming the entire proceedings in coordination with local cameramen in Amritsar, the resolutions of the ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ were hailed by Sikhs living abroad.
Earlier this year, when Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa undertook a fast to get Sikh prisoners released from jails across India, it was streamed live through NRI Sikh channels. “Everything that is shown on these channels and websites may not be seditious. But these channels are surely whipping up emotions of people unnecessarily, creating an atmosphere of unrest in the state,” added Sukhbir.