YouTube Blocks Pal Pal News for Exposing Govt over Covid, Reporting on Narsinghanand

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Second channel to be penalised within days

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — Pal Pal News, a popular YouTube channel with 1.9 million subscribers, has been blocked for 15 days by the video platform giant. The action has been taken for two videos that the channel broadcast: On April 13, a first-person account of a suffering Covid patient in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh; and, on April 10, footage of a protest against the controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati.

While YouTube found the first video violative of the World Health Organisation’s guidelines and explicitly disputing local health authority’s efficacy, the second video was described as going against its policy of not allowing “harassment and cyberbullying”.

“YouTube has accused us of cyberbullying Narsinghanand who is talking nonsense and outraging an entire community. YouTube is also accusing us of creating a bad image of the government by reporting on its failures. But we don’t agree. The videos that we showed are genuine. We are doing independent journalism in a professional way,” Pal Pal News Editor-in-Chief Khushboo Akhtar told Clarion India.

This is the second time when YouTube has taken action against Pal Pal News. In 2018, it deleted the channel altogether for running a video of a man making hate speech and asking the government if any action will be taken against him. The channel was restored after it went to court.

The current action against the channel comes days after YouTube blocked, for a week, Millat Times, a trilingual news website which mainly reports news of Muslims. The reason was the same: a video showing a protest by labourers against Covid-hit lockdown in Mumbai.

Like Millat Times, Pal Pal News also focuses on Muslims and the downtrodden. These are the news outlets which are run by individuals with modest background and no backing from any big shot.

Pal Pal News is a two-person army, sister and brother duo which has developed its own style of journalism. Besides doing their own spot reporting, they encourage their viewers to send them video reports from different parts of the country. The Lucknow video that has been deleted by YouTube was one such video which, according to Khushboo, exposed the government’s claim about Covid preparedness.

The Narsinghanand report – a protest against him in Bareilly, UP – was also based on footages sent by its viewers. “People are angry because of Narsinghanand’s derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. They are protesting against him everywhere. But the government, instead of taking action against him, filing cases against those opposing him. Now the government and the IT cell are bullying us through YouTube,” she said.

On April 18, Khushboo went live on Facebook to denounce the “biased” action of YouTube. She accused the video giant of working under the influence of the government and “IT Cell”. “We call on the public to protest against the injustice being done to us,” she appealed.

A number of public figures have come in support of Pal Pal News. Former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan has condemned YouTube for its action.

Similarly, Syed Sarwar Chishti of the Shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, Rajasthan, has also disapproved of the action. Through a video message he has demanded from YouTube to restore Pal Pal News. “I see nothing objectionable in the video report on protest against Narsinghanand who is spreading hate and using abusive language,” he said in the video.

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