— Mumbai cyber police are demanding that U.S. tech companies hand over personal details of Internet users who insulted Indian PM Narendra Modi
Last year, I blogged about efforts by Mumbai’s “cyber police crime division” to purge the Internet of doctored images of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Since that post, the censorious cyber squad has refocused its efforts on trying to scrub the Internet of derogatory terms associated with the famously gaffe-prone Indian PM.
Narendra Modi (source)
Recently, the department sent Google a criminal complaint ordering the removal of all search results for “Feku No. 1,” a derogatory Hindi slang term that, according to Urban Dictionary, refers to “[a] person who tries to project himself as a people’s leader by spreading false propaganda using paid media and crony capitalists.”
The term became synonymous with Modi in 2013 when a political opponent used it to mock the Indian PM and is allegedly intended to “outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs,Defamation” and “create UNREST, BREACH of PEACE which might result in LAW & ORDER problems in Maharashtra, India,” according to the complaint.
The complaint was filed by senior inspector Ravi Sardesai, who is reportedly “an old hand at handling cyber crime.”
In a separate criminal complaint, Sardesai also recently ordered Google to remove all search results for “CHUTIYA modi.” According to Urban Dictionary, Chutiya is “[a] uniquely Indian expletive [that] classifies the recipient as either an idiot, or an ignoramus or someone behaving stupidly. Derived from Chut, Hindi for vagina.”
But Sardesai’s most aggressively heavy-handed demand, listed as a “TOP PRIORITY BASIS so as to avoid Law and Order problems in Maharashtra and INDIA,” sought that U.S. tech companies, including Google and YouTube, immediately furnish the mobile phone numbers, e-mail and IP addresses of creators of the offending content.
Section 91 of India’s Code of Criminal Procedure permits “any officer in charge of a police station” to request “any document or other thing” from “the person in whose possession…such document or thing is believed to be.”
A quick scan of the invaluable Lumen Database, which archives online takedown demands, shows that Sardesai has sent dozens of similar demands within the past year, most of which include requests to “BLOCK/DELETE” a seemingly endless flow of allegedly “defamatory morphed/vulgar photos” of Modi.
Per my previous post on the Mumbai cyber division’s legal shenanigans, those photos include a widely shared photoshopped image of Modi homoerotically embracing his right-hand man Rajnath Singh on a beach.