The government has identified over 250 websites and blogs that participated in the online campaign of hatred against Indians from the North-East. About 125 websites have already been blocked. Rest will be forced offline in the next few hours. The Department of Telecom has said that objectionable content is still available online and has suggested that social networking sites have not responded to requests to urgently delete inflammatory posts. (Read Department of Telecom's statement here
The Government of India is likely to take the legal route and use Mutual legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and Letter - Rogatories to seek information from west and gulf countries where some servers used to circulate inflammatory and hate pictures are based.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid, meanwhile, said that the government does not intend to take any irrational steps to curb freedom of expression, but the regulation is to prevent any further damage.
"I do believe that the Home Minister is working 24x7 to ensure that he is able to intercept and prevent any such damaging exercise, but over the months there has been little diversion caused by people who have raised issues of liberty, freedom of expression, interference with social media. There is no intention by the government to do anything which would be considered unreasonable, irrational or excessive," Mr Khurshid told NDTV.
India has said nearly 40 per cent of the doctored and incendiary online images originated in Pakistan and were uploaded across the border, and that evidence of this will be shared with Islamabad, most likely when External Affairs Minister SM Krishna visits Islamabad for bilateral talks early next month, according to news agency IANS. The Department of Telecom said that social networking sites have been requested to provide registration details for those who uploaded communally-charged photos and messages, but in many cases, the government says, "proxy servers and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services which hides the user identity... appear to have been used for uploading the content."
Morphed photos that were hosted and circulated online misrepresented victims of earthquakes as Muslims killed in ethnic riots in Myanmar and Assam. Online posts and text messages in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad warned of a reprisal. Thousands of people from states like Assam, Manipur and Mizoram boarded special trains to spend a few days at home; many said they will return to the cities where they live and work in the next few weeks.
The material that has been posted online has given new expression to the fractious relationship between the government and international social networks, many of who have were taken to court in December on charges that include hosting content intended to create communal hatred. In its note today, the Department of Telecom complained, "An intermediary social networking site has responded that the up-loaders of the inflammatory and hateful content are outside the jurisdiction of the country, thereby implying that they are not obliged to take any constructive step to deal with it." The note says that The Department of Electronics & Information Technology held a meeting with executives from international social networking sites, but without the desired effect. "A lot more and quicker action is expected from them (social networks) to address such a sensitive issue," the government has warned.