I was appalled by a report in the Afternoon Dispatch & Courier today: “Cyber cafes ban Orkut”.
A day after Shiv Sainiks vandalised a cyber-cafe in Kalyan, protesting against certain hate-communities on the website Orkut.com on Sunday, cyber café owners in the city seem to be upset with the police for taking no action against the offenders.
Interestingly, the Mumbai police yesterday issued orders to all the cyber cafes in the city asking them to discourage people from using the Orkut website.
PSI G. Sawant of Kalachowki Police station said, “We have asked the cyber cafes in our locality to ban Orkut and not allow people to surf that site. We have got orders from our superiors to ask cyber cafes in our locality to ban it. Necessary action will be taken against cafes that are found violating the law.”
However, when asked, Sanjay Mohite, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Enforcement), said, “I am not aware of this order. But the local police stations may have asked cyber cafes to stop encouraging Orkut to be used by net surfers.”
A classic case of (mis)governance in India, where the left hand (or local authority) doesn’t know what the right hand (or
center) is up to. But this is alarming — are local police stations free to formulate their own “laws”?
I checked the Orkut Shiv Sena communities, there are about 63 in all with about 6000 users. Out of these 63, only 2 are
anti-Shive Sena communities. Only 1 is of note: “I hate Shiv Sena”. The community describes itself as follows:
This Community is for all those people who are sick and tired of Bal Thackeray and his gang called shiv sena.. who for no good reason.. are spreading corruption in the country…They are responsible for creating mass riots, innumerable sources of destruction which have resulted in loss of time, money and innocent lives…
For their own selfish political needs they are exploiting the needy people in the country and in turn making everyone suffer… their fake communism and baseless chauvinism is a hindrance in the progress of the nation of its youth…
So, for all of u people who hate these political monsters, come, join this community and share ur beliefs!!!
The community also attempts to moderate posts on its message board by ostracizing anti-Maharashtra or anti-Shivaji
sentiments. These attempts are not always successful though. What is interesting, is that this community has just over 270
members. So because of these 270 members who may be spread all over the world, a group of Shiv Sainiks attacks a cyber
cafe in Kalyan?
While Orkut as a tool is used for ignominious purposes, it also has its positives. Whatever the case, it in no way violates any
Indian penal or civil law. On the other hand, attempts to ban Orkut are violations of the constitutional right to free speech.
The article further states:
An official of the cyber crime cell, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “We had recently got Orkut to block allegedly defamatory content about Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Chhatrapati Shivaji and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. The site has been encouraging anti-Indian policies and people are agitated by it. We have asked cyber cafés to refrain from using the site. But soon, it may be completely banned in India.”
Are we going to adopt the Great Firewall of China? Remember, walls are built brick by brick. Today it is Orkut. Tomorrow
it will be YouTube. And so on. We must crush any attempts to (unlawfully) censor the Internet in India, and preserve our