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Sedition block on rebel website

New Delhi, Sept. 22: The Centre today ordered the blocking of a Yahoo website set up by the Khasi separatist outfit, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), for promoting sedition.

A telecom department spokesperson said the government order was given under new rules that came into effect this July.

“It’s the first block order since the new rules were framed. Earlier, the police or, in some cases, the CBI had blocked a few porn sites like desibaba.com or supremecourtofindia.com. But this is the first time we are doing it under the new rules which allow blocking obscene sites as well as anti-national sites or sites that threaten public order,” the official said.

The spokesperson said the Centre had requested Yahoo to block the site “but since the web-based company did not agree to this, we issued our own orders”. Yahoo officials could not be reached for their comment.

Till this evening, however, the block was not working properly and groups.yahoo.com/ groups/kynhun could still be accessed.

The newsletter site, which had 37 members, was started last August. It urges tribals to “arise, awake and sacrifice” and contains small news items called “Voices” and “Letters from Members” on issues such as alleged attempts to Sanskritise tribals by forcing them to accept the state name of Meghalaya and mining of uranium in the state in the face of protests.

The HNLC, considered one of the weaker insurgent groups in the Northeast for not having mounted any major attack, has been demanding a separate state for Khasi and Jaintia tribals, and is opposed to the Garo community.

The outfit was formed in 1992 after a split within the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council, the first militant tribal outfit in Meghalaya.

Both HNLC, which was banned three years ago, and its former sister outfit, the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army, claim they are fighting against Dkars or “outsiders”.

Yet, they are opposed to each other as each outfit represents rival tribes.

According to officials, the Yahoo groups site “was the first of other sites which we may consider blocking if they put out anti-national news”.

Such sites can also be blocked by a government response team called the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which looks into cyber-security issues. The team was set up in July soon after the new rules were published in the government gazette.

Experts believe the Centre’s attempts to block sites that it considers anti-national may not be very successful.

They say a block effected through Internet service providers such as the VSNL or the MTNL network, which links up most Indian Internet sites, can be bypassed by going through a website search engine such as Google or Yahoo.

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