Never threatened to 'crush' electronic media, meant social media: Shinde

A day after coming under fire for vowing to 'crush' electronic media who he accused of running a 'propaganda campaign' against the Congress, the Home Minister has now said that he did not mean to target journalists.

FP Staff February 25, 2014 08:52:44 IST
Never threatened to 'crush' electronic media, meant social media: Shinde

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who has built an unfortunate reputation for making some intolerable gaffes, has done it again.

A day after coming under fire for vowing to 'crush' electronic media who he accused of running a 'propaganda campaign' against the Congress, the Home Minister has now said that he did not mean to target journalists.

Never threatened to crush electronic media meant social media Shinde

PTI

"My comments were on Social Media....it was with regards to the issue related to the NE students who were being targeted in Hyderabad and Karnataka," he said on Tuesday.

The Home Minister, who drew massive criticism for his comments on Monday, made the remarks at a youth Congress meeting in his home constituency of Solapur.

"Youngsters should be aware of this propaganda of electronic media. Since I have the intelligence department with me, now I know the source of this propaganda. We have covertly put a stop to it," he said, adding that "In the last four months there have been efforts by the media to provoke us (Congress). We will crush such elements in the electronic media, which are indulging in false propaganda, if it does not stop".

Shinde's backtrack comes even as the Editors Guild of India made a statement objecting to the 'unsubstantiated charges' made by a number of public figures including AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and former Army chief VK Singh.

And although Shinde has now 'clarified' that his comments were directed at social media and not electronic media, it is unlikely that his justification will find many takers either.

Although there have been legitimate concerns about the use of social media to spread propaganda and rumours, a threat to 'crush' it is certainly not the kind of solution that a minister of a democratic country should be advocating.

The government has had a fairly uneasy relationship with social media. Then Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal drew flak for saying that social media sites needed to 'pre-scan' user posts for offensive content, a comment that was interpreted as advocating censorship.

And there is section 66A of the IT act, which has purportedly been put in place to 'avoid harassment' but in reality is framed in vague and sweeping language, which allows law enforcement authorities to interpret it in a subjective manner. For instance, it seeks to prosecute information that is 'grossly offensive and has menacing character'.

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