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Facebook fears backlash from Indian Government, Hindu militant group not banned

Facebook fears the life of its staff and business prospects within India, over action against Hindu militant group, Bajrang Dal.

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Facebook in India is reluctant to ban the militant group, Bajrang Dal, despite an internal assessment on banning dangerous extremist groups. The internal security team issued a warning that fears banning the militant group from the platform could put the business and the staff’s lives at risk, as per the report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Bajrang Dal has been supporting violence against minorities, especially Muslims across India, and has been using the Facebook platform to spread hate speech, it has been labeled as a ‘harmful group’ by the internal security team at Facebook.

However, Facebook “balked at removing the group” as it is concerned that action against Bajrang Dal could risk “infuriating India’s ruling Hindu nationalist politicians” and a ban on the group could also lead to “physical attacks” on the firm’s facilities and the staff workers across India, said the report published Sunday.

“In many countries where Facebook is available, the company doesn’t have staff. But it has a significant presence in India, with five offices including in New Delhi and Mumbai. Those facilities and their people are what the company’s security team zeroed in on as potential risks of retaliation from extremists,” states the WSJ news report.

Bajrang Dal attacks church and uploads video to Facebook

In June this year, a Pentecostal Chruch, just outside Delhi, was attacked by dozens of religious extremists claiming that it was built on top of a temple. The group assaulted the priest and installed a Hindu idol in the church. Bajrang Dal claimed responsibility for this act.

A video of this attack was filmed and was uploaded to Facebook by Jeet Vashsith, a district president for Bajrang Dal. The video went viral and has reached beyond 250,000 views.

The video was later taken down after WSJ asked the firm about it.

Commenting on the matter Facebook spokesman Andy Stone as saying: “We enforce our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy globally without regard to a political position or party affiliation”. Stone added that the process to determine what entities must be banned as “careful, rigorous and multidisciplinary”.

Facebook has large interests in India, the largest userbase in the world. The firm’s investments are worth $7.5 billion in Reliance Jio, among many others.

The US Central Intelligence Company has declared Bajrang Dal as a militant group and has convicted it of carrying out hate crimes and religiously motivated killings. Facebook communities supporting the group “celebrate images of people beaten or killed for their alleged offenses against Hinduism,” reads the WSJ report.

Vishva Hindu Parshad vows to take revenge from WSJ

The Vishva Hindu Parsha (VHP) vows that it will take legal action against the report published by the Wall Street Journal.

VHP joint secretary Surendra Jain said that the report was aimed at ‘insulting India’ and has crossed its limits. Jain has previously served as the in-charge of Bajrang Dal.

“They have crossed their limits. They have insulted India in the garb of attacking Bajrang Dal. If any illegal work is being carried out in India and the government is not able to stop it, are they trying to say that the government is not competent to take action? I feel that The Wall Street Journal should stay within its limits. They should not try to comment on the internal matters of India,” he said.

He argued that Bajrang Dal “is a youth organisation of VHP committed for upliftment of Bharat and Hindu Samaj”, he said it “doesn’t need a certificate from WSJ”.

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