A press note from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Press Information Bureau said it had blocked the content in “a closely coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting” in two separate orders.
“The channels and websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India,” the press release on PIB said. “The channels were used to post divisive content in a coordinated manner on topics like Kashmir, Indian Army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat, etc.”
Their modus operandi, the PIB note said, was an “anti-India disinformation campaign involved The Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating from Pakistan, having a network of YouTube channels, and some other standalone YouTube channels not related to NPG”.
“The channels had a combined subscriber base of over 35 lakh, and their videos had over 55 crore views. Some of the YouTube channels of the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG) were being operated by anchors of Pakistani news channels,” the note said.
Among their controversial content were “issues such as the farmers’ protest, protests related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act”.
These channels, the note claims, “tried to incite the minorities against the Government of India”.
“It was also feared that these YouTube channels would be used to post content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states,” the press release said.
The censored channels and websites are—The Punch Line; International Web News; Khalsa TV; The Naked Truth; News24; 48 News; Fictional; Historical Facts; Punjab Viral; Naya Pakistan Global; Cover Story; Go Global; eCommerce; Junaid Haleem Official; Tayyab Hanif; Zain Ali Official; Mohsin Rajput; Official; Kaneez Fatima; Sadaf Durrani; Mian Imran; Ahmad; Najam Ul Hassan; and Bajwa.
Three of these are —The Naked Truth; The Punch Line; and InternationalWeb News—together have a few lakh subscribers.
In a video message, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said “strong action” had been taken against 20 YouTube channels and two websites as they were creating an atmosphere of “fear and confusion” in India by running fake news and anti-India contents in violation of Indian laws.
“Action has been taken against them under the IT rules so that the agenda that Pakistan carries out against India (is blunted)… Strict action has been taken against them so that such forces do not work against India,” he said.
The minister also tweeted, “We have taken strict action against cross-border activities aimed to spread unrest in India by way of spreading fake news and propaganda”.
Pdf file: IB- blocked