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Google takes down SFJ mobile app '2020 Sikh Referendum' from its Play Store

The mobile application '2020 Sikh Referendum' had reportedly asked the general public to register themselves to vote in the 'Punjab Referendum 2020 Khalistan'.

Published: 19th November 2019 05:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th November 2019 05:14 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: IT giant Google on Tuesday removed the android app US-based separatist body 'Sikhs For Justice' (SFJ) from its Play Store. Confirming the same, an official from Punjab CMO said that the app '2020 Sikh Referendum' is no longer available for smartphone users in India. 

Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh had urged the Centre to persuade Google in this matter. He had further asked the state DGP to coordinate with central security agencies to tackle the threat resulting from the app created by 'ICETECH'.
 
The mobile application had reportedly asked the general public to register themselves to vote in the 'Punjab Referendum 2020 Khalistan'. Around the same time, a website -- yes2khalistan.org-- was also launched on the same lines for a similar purpose. 

During analysis of the said application and the website in the DITAC Lab, Punjab, it was found that the data of the registered voters on the app was also linked and stored in the server of the website created and handled by SFJ, an Association banned by the Union Government.

Based on these findings, the Cyber Crime Centre of Bureau of Investigation, Punjab, had moved to get the App removed from the Google Play Store and the website blocked for usage in India.

Subsequently, on November 8, a notice under Section 79 (3) B of Information Technology Act was sent to the Google legal cell for immediate removal of the mobile app from the Google Play Store.

After obtaining the approval from Additional Chief Secretary Home, a request letter was sent to Cyber Law Division, Department of Electronics & Information and
Technology, Government of India, for blocking the Mobile Application from Google Play Store and the Website, under Rule 9 (Blocking of Information in case of Emergency) of Blocking Rule (IT Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking Access of information by public) Rules, 2009.

On November 9, IGP Crime Nageshwar Rao and in charge State Cyber-cum-DITAC Lab raised the issue with the Legal Cell of Google India, which was convinced that the Google platform was being abused for committing illegal and anti-national activities by banned association 'Sikhs For Justice'. This was followed by their decision to remove the app from their Play Store.

The app was launched by SFJ on the eve of opening of Kartarpur Corridor, allegedly to encourage anti-India sentiments among pilgrims. 

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