I&B Ministry blocks apps, website, social media accounts of Punjab Politics TV over alleged links with SFJ

The Ministry believes that the contents of the blocked apps, website, and social media accounts of Punjab Politics TV posed the risk of triggering communal disharmony and separatism.

Punjab Politics TV, an overseas based platform, is in trouble for its alleged links with Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), an organization that has been declared unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.  All apps, website, and social media accounts of Punjab Politics TV has been blocked by the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting as it has been notified by the intelligence agencies as unlawful.

The I&B Ministry has taken intelligence inputs which pointed out that the channel “was attempting to use online media to disturb public order during the ongoing State Assembly Elections”. The blocking order of the digital media resources of Punjab Politics TV comes as per the emergency powers under the IT Rules on February 18.

Intelligence inputs lead to blocking of Punjab Politics TV accounts

The Ministry believes that the contents of the blocked apps, website, and social media accounts posed the risk of triggering communal disharmony and separatism. It also said that the media accounts of the blocked Punjab Politics TV were found to be “detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, and public order”.

Launched in time for the Punjab Assembly election, the new apps and social media accounts had the potential to gain traction during the ongoing elections. This was seen by the Ministry as something warranted a ban, and thus went ahead and did just that.

Punjab Politics TV

The Ministry has clarified that the Union Government “remains vigilant and committed to secure the overall information environment in India and thwart any actions having the potential to undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity”.

It may be recalled that the Union Government had in January 2019 invoked UAPA and banned the pro-Khalistani SFJ. Though the ban order was challenged in court, the UAPA tribunal had upheld the ban in 2020.

When the election season was in full swing in Punjab, SFJ again made it to the national media space following an allegation by former AAP leader Kumar Vishwas that the Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal had Khalistan links.

SFJ reference amidst Punjab polls

The SFJ was in news ahead of voting in Punjab over the weekend, after Kumar Vishwas, a former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, alleged that AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister had links to Khalistani elements. This created quite a furore and the rival Congress and BJP units swung into action against the AAP. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi even brought to the fore, as proof, a letter supposedly written by SFJ’s legal advisor. This in turn prompted Union Home Minister Amit Shah to declare that the alleged relationship would be probed into.

Now with the Union Government order blocking all apps, website and social media accounts of Punjab Politics TV over intelligence reports that linked the platform with SFJ, the situation has turned serious. An investigation might bring to light more details.

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