AHMEDABAD: Airing his ire against the government's move to censor the internet, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi put up a black blank image as his display picture on Twitter.
The Gujarat chief minister added to the #GOIBlocks stream of tweets: 'As a common man, I join the protest against crackdown on freedom of speech! Have changed my DP. Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan.'
Meanwhile, defending the government's action, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that social media accounts which have posted objectionable and inflammatory content are being blocked that there was no censorship.
"We are taking action only against those sites which can cause damage. We will not level charges unnecessarily on others, be it SMS or Facebook or Twitter," Shinde told reporters.
"Be assured of that. Only those who are involved in this and who have done this job of inciting people will face problems and nobody else," he said.
The government has found itself on the defensive this week over what critics see as a clumsy clampdown on social media websites - including Google , YouTube and Facebook - that has raised questions about freedom of information in the world's largest democracy.
The government blocked access to more than 300 Web pages after threatening mobile phone text messages and doctored website images fuelled rumours that Muslims, a large minority in the predominantly Hindu country, were planning revenge attacks for violence in Assam, where 80 people have been killed and 300,000 have been displaced since July.
The government's actions triggered a storm of criticism from Twitter users, with the hashtags #Emergency2012 and #GOIBlocks among the top trending topics on Twitter in the country. Some compared the situation with the state of emergency imposed by the government in 1975, when some journalists were jailed.
The United States has also asked India to strike a balance between national security and importance of online freedom.
Responding to questions about India asking Twitter to disable some accounts, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said: "Our understanding is that the Indian government is working with a number of our companies - Google, Facebook, and now Twitter - and we stand ready to be helpful if we can, as we always do with our companies in those conversations."
"The general principle of respect for freedom of expression, respect for the unique characteristics of the online environment, needs to be respected even as they work through whether there are things these companies can do to help calm the environment," she said. (Agencies)
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