New Delhi seeks help of Washington, Riyadh

India has approached the United States and Saudi Arabia, seeking details of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and other technical details of websites and users who were behind the uploading of inflammatory content to incite communal tensions in the country.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday ordered the blocking of 65 more websites and web pages for carrying morphed images and fake videos targeting the northeast people.

Sources in the MHA said Home Secretary R.K. Singh spoke to Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and apprised him of the investigations being carried out by various intelligence and security agencies on how Pakistan-based elements were indulging in a cyber war against India. The Ministry of External Affairs was also asked to raise this sensitive issue at international fora and expose the “nefarious designs” of the neighbouring country.

To take its investigations to a logical conclusion, the MHA has decided to send a formal request to the authorities concerned in the U.S. seeking its cooperation in the case as computers servers of most the sites used for uploading inflammatory contents such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were stationed in America.

A similar request would be made to Saudi Arabia as investigations revealed that apart from Pakistan, derogatory contents were also uploaded from the Gulf nation. “We will be sending Letter Rogatory to both the nations as it is acceptable in a court of law as legal evidence…these will then be shared with Pakistan with other clinching evidences,” a senior MHA official said.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said security agencies have got “much information” regarding the origin of inflammatory content on Internet and spread of hate SMSs. The matter was still under investigation. India would not disclose from where it got the proof that Pakistan-based elements were behind it.

The MHA has asked the Ministry of Communications and IT (MCIT) to block 65 new websites and web pages, thus taking the total number of such websites in the past four days to 310. Notably, names of two Pakistan political parties — Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf — and a private TV channel of that country have surfaced in some of the inflammatory videos and images. “We are looking into it to find out the role of these organisations in spreading hate and inciting communal passions in India,” the official said.

Twitter blamed

Officials in the MHA and MCIT have blamed some social networking sites such as Twitter for not cooperating with them that has led to the authorities facing problems in blocking at least two dozen websites having objectionable content. The MCIT is planning to take action against these companies.