The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on December 12, 2022 issued directions for blocking the smart TV app of Pakistan-based OTT platform Vidly TV, for allegedly running a web series that was aimed at sowing hatred and division among Indian communities.
A website, two mobile applications and four social media accounts have also been blocked.
According to the Ministry, the OTT platform had recently released the web series titled “Sevak: The Confessions”, which was found to be detrimental to the “national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, India’s friendly relations with foreign states, and public order in the country”.
Three episodes of the web series had been uploaded on the platform till date. The first episode was released this year on November 26, the anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. “It was suspected that the web series was sponsored by the Pakistani information operations apparatus,” the Ministry said.
The opening credits of the web series showed the Ashok Chakra of the Indian flag on fire. The series portrayed an anti-India narrative on sensitive events and subjects of national importance, including “Operation Blue Star” and its aftermath; the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya; the killing of a Christian missionary named Graham Staines; the Malegaon blasts, the Samjhauta Express blasts, and the inter-State river water dispute related to the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal, it said.
“The series contains several dialogues, such as passing of wounds by the Sikh people to their next generations in the context of Operation Blue Star; the Indian State being against the interests of the Muslim community; and all Indian political parties being hand-in-glove in the demolition of Babri Masjid, etc. In one instance, a visual portrays an Indian television news channel showing ‘Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are India’s internal threat, says Home Minister’,” the Ministry said.
“Operation Blue Star” was allegedly portrayed as a “massacre” of “innocent Sikhs” by the web series. “The developments in Punjab, after the operation, were maliciously shown with strong communal tones, portraying the violence and police action as being motivated by religious reasons. All policemen in Punjab are depicted without turbans, sending a message that non-Sikh policemen labeled the Sikh population as Khalistani terrorists,” it said.
The Ministry added: “In one of the scenes, a Hindu priestess is shown to be declaring that the Hindu children have to grow up to ‘kill’ Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs, and cleanse the motherland from their ‘filthy’ existence. Another scene claims that Scheduled Castes are being forced to remain Hindus. Using religious symbols, anti-Sikh riots of 1984 were shown to be an assault by Hindus against Sikhs.”