The UPA government is terribly nervous after the release of the three CAG reports. It is using underhand means to stifle public opinion, sensible discussions and to snatch away the fundamental right to free expression. The IT ministry under the effervescent Kapil Sibal has launched a systematic clean-up to rid the net of uncomfortable cartoons, and social network sites. This the government is doing under the guise of monitoring objectionable and inflammatory material that created social tensions in the wake of the exodus of people of north-east from various Indian cities.
According to newspaper reports, most of the blogs and sites blocked by the government were neither relating to the north-east nor had anything socially objectionable. They were mostly sites which had political content.
India boasts of being a nerve-centre of IT. And yet, a handful of people from Pakistan created havoc here using the mobile, the internet and electronic rumour spreading. India could only cry and crib like a toddler, accusing the piddly neighbour of ‘foul-play.‘ It sounds such a cruel joke that Pakistan can get away with murder so easily. In the entire episode, all that the Indian government did was to issue a statement from the foreign minister that he would take it up with his counterpart in Islamabad. While Pakistan always indulges in double speak and puts up two faces, on the one hand insisting on diplomatic dialogue and on the other hand play underhand dirty tricks, the Indian government behaves in absolutely servility, opening more routes, windows and facilities for the neighbour. That is another story altogether.
This is not the first time the UPA government has attempted to control the netizens’ voice. Previously, it claimed that the prime minister, ministers and Sonia Gandhi were being tastelessly lampooned and demanded from the host of the sites to monitor and filter contents. The government had no arguments to defend against the message of such comments and cartoon. Almost a hundred per cent of these were on corruption and the dual power centres of the UPA. In these very columns we have protested such government manipulations. Having more or less managed the media to its side, the freedom of expression of Indians as offered by the technology irked it constantly. Articles, comments and pieces of information on Sonia Gandhi and her family so totally blacked out by the Indian media both print and electronic found space on the net. Crisp comments on the prime minister’s non-governance, the increasing and suffocating levels of corruption of the UPA and the Congress exposed not only the UPA but also the role that a free and fair media should play in a honest democracy.
The government during the course of banning sites let it be known that a huge chunk of these objectionable sites came from the Hindu groups. It banned the twitter of people like Praveen Togadia, whom it alleged was being inflammatory. What is galling is that the attempt to gag the voices is directed to political criticism rather than communal disharmony. Gagging free speech is a betrayal of nervousness, lack of courage and and admission of one’s fall in moral standards. UPA and Congress leadership are suffering all these. It is resorting to censorship to cover up its sleaze and scandalous loot.