Issue 281, Friday 28 September 2012 - 11 Dhu al-Qa'dah 1433
A Muslim news portal among banned websites in India
By M Ghazali Khan
Some pages of the Indian Muslim portal Twocircles.net have been banned by the Indian Government without any reason being given and notice being issued. “It has been decided to immediately block the access to the following URLs” a directive issued by the Ministry of Communication & IT of Government of India said.
Apparently the directive was issued in the wake of rumours and the circulation of SMS messages threatening that the deaths of Bengali-speaking-Muslims in the North Eastern Indian state of Assam would be avenged in rest of India. The rumours created panic among Assamese working or studying in other states forcing them to flee back to Assam.
More than 85 Muslims have been killed in the anti-Bengali-speaking-Muslim verses Bodo tribe riots that broke out in July. Hundreds have been made homeless living in most wretched conditions in refugee camps.
Interestingly Twocircles had not published any objectionable article or doctored photos of Assam or Myanmar violence and more bizarre is the fact that the banned pages have nothing to do with Assam or Myanmar, against which demonstrations had been organised in some cities.
The banned pages are few months’ old special reports on the harassment and implication of Muslim youths in terror cases in Madhya Pradesh and an anti-Muslim riot in Uttar Pradesh.
According to Twocircles Executive Editor, Kashif-ul-Huda, “...there may be some webpages elsewhere that may be spreading misinformation but you can challenge rumour by providing more information and not by trying to block websites. Without going to the root of problem, trying to control the violence in Assam or providing protection to people going back home, India is using this opportunity to censor legitimate voices and issues. How else one explains blocking of spoof twitter handles and TCN stories that have nothing to do with Assam violence.
“Also, the Government doesn’t understand how easy it is to copy the information to a new webpage or to create a new twitter account. They cannot go on banning the whole internet. E.g. though the series page was banned in India, individual stories from the series can still be accessed. So go on read what Government doesn’t want you to know.”