Controlling Information

Claiming that ‘false narratives’ are being propagated to the world, the Indian government blocked various Pakistani twitter accounts of embassies in several locations. This decision follows a pattern—Radio Pakistan’s account was also blocked, along with several YouTube channels. There is no stronger indication of a country living under tyrannical rule than perhaps its government possessing extreme control over the inflow and outflow of information. In fact, there is even no greater admission of guilt either and the international community should take note.
Official accounts of the Pakistani embassies in Iran, Turkey, Egypt and the United Nations have been blocked by the BJP government. The justification given is that Pakistan is spreading misinformation about India, especially in relation to the Muslim minority. Under this guise, it was also able to get away with blocking six Pakistan-based YouTube channels because of this ‘incorrect’ information; a clear case of the state not being able to handle any (valid) criticism.
The fact of the matter remains that restricting information and surveilling social media platforms that are intended to promote values of freedom and free-speech, is a violation of the people’s rights. Access to information, no matter where it comes from, is integral and such a restrictive policy goes against the values that platforms like twitter were created upon. There must be a greater push for India to adhere to international norms, standards and rules and if no other state acts, at least the platform itself should show some concern.
Another idea that must be explored is the use of information as a way to control people. By limiting the Indian population’s access to any kind of information that may be critical of the state speaks to the intolerant attitude of the state that Pakistan is already ringing alarm bells about. The BJP government has decided to expand its control over the people at the cost of their rights and this is representative of the role it has played in the suffering of the Kashmiris and Muslim minorities. The global community must question why a country would restrict access to information, even if it may be false, unless there is some degree of truth to it. Hiding and banning information does not come out of a sense of protectiveness but, instead, of self-preservation.

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