07/19/2006, 00.00
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Delhi censoring internet in an anti-terrorist move

The authorities block 18 websites after responsibility in the Mumbai attacks is claimed online. Step is taken to stop terrorist-oriented messages from spreading around the net, but computer companies consider the ban "neither desirable nor feasible."

Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Indian government has blocked a number of websites in a bid to check the rise in hate and terror-related messaging after the Mumbai railway bombings. The Department of Telecom has asked 150 internet service providers to block 18 websites which could be used by terror groups to communicate and spread provocative messages.

Two websites 'dalistan.org' (a site of lower caste Hindus) and 'hinduunity.org' (close to Hindu nationalists) are also among the banned sites and so are some better known blogs.

Officials with the Department of Telecom and the Department of Information Technology declined to comment on the issue, but Deepak Maheshwari, secretary of the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), confirmed that the Association has received instructions from the government to that effect.

"The instructions have been received from the government and the sites have been blocked accordingly", Maheshwari said.

This is the first time the government has banned such a large number of websites. It comes a day after Lashkar-e-Qahar (an Islamist Kashmir group with bases in Pakistan and India) claimed responsibility for the railway attacks on the internet, promising that it will carry out new ones.

In its claim, the group said that 16 people took part in the series of attacks that left 182 people dead, but only one did not return—all the others are back, safe and sound, having celebrated the success of their mission and getting ready for the next one.

Meanwhile, India's leading association of computer companies described the ban as "neither desirable nor feasible." Its chairman Kiran Karnik said that internet should be a free media and "any attempts to block out websites are not desirable".

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