'Contract to Kill': How India got YouTube to block access to CBC documentary on Nijjar's killing

Canada-based CBC claimed India also demanded X to remove the video

The video shows Hardeep Singh Nijjar's pickup truck blocked by a white sedan before two men approaching him and opening fire at him The video shows Hardeep Singh Nijjar's pickup truck blocked by a white sedan before two men approaching him and opening fire at him

Social media streaming giant YouTube has blocked access to the documentary on the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in India on the demand of the Indian government, claimed Canada-based Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).   

The documentary on the Nijjar was made and aired by CBC's 'The Fifth Estate' last week. It had included an exclusive security video which showed Nijjar leaving the parking lot of the gurdwara in his grey Dodge Ram pickup truck before being gunned down.

CBC claimed YouTube confirmed the news to its team in an email. According to YouTube, it received an order from India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to block access to the video of the story from its website. However, the content is still available elsewhere on the streaming site.

The CBC report added that the India government also sent X, formerly Twitter, ordering removal of contents related to the Fifth Estate story. "Indian law obligates X to withhold access to this content in India; however, the content remains available elsewhere," X said in an email to CBC. 

"We disagree with this action and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts. Following the Indian legal process, we are in current communication with the Indian authorities," said X.

The CBC also claimed that the emails from YouTube and X said the Indian government cited the country's Information Technology Act 2000 in making the orders. As per the Act, the government has the power to "intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource" that affects the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India and the security of the state. 

However, CBC News spokesman Chuck Thompson said it stands by its journalism on the story. "To ensure fairness and balance, the documentary included a wide range of voices, witnesses and subject matter experts," he said. "And, as is the case with all stories on The Fifth Estate, "Contract To Kill" was thoroughly researched, vetted by senior editorial leaders and meets our journalistic standards." 

The documentary released last week also includes quotes from two alleged witnesses who were playing soccer in a field nearby when they heard the gunshots. "We saw those two guys running," said Bhupinderjit Singh Sidhu. "We started running towards … where the sound was coming from."

"I tried to press his chest and tried to shake him to see if he was breathing. But he was totally unconscious. He was not breathing."

Malkit Singh, one of the eye-witnesses, told CBC. He added that he chased the two men until they got into the Toyota Camry. "A car came from around the alley and they got into it. There were three others sitting in that car," said Singh. "We could smell the smoke from the guns, the smell of the guns was everywhere." 

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