On June 26, Twitter user @AnonGoIWPEdits — an account which reports anonymous edits to English-language Wikipedia from Indian government IPs — stirred up considerable controversy when it revealed multiple negative edits to the Wikipedia page about India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his family, according to a report from the International Business Times. The edits included assertions that Nehru was born a Muslim in a brothel. The edits to Wikipedia were tracked by software developed by Pranesh Prakash, policy director at the Centre for Internet and Society.
The Wikipedia pages of Nehru’s father, Gangadhar Nehru, and grandfather, Motilal Nehru, were also edited at the same time, as well as descendant Sanjay Gandhi, also by anonymous users behind Government of India IP addresses. Nehru’s page has since been “semi-protected” by Wikipedia to prevent further anonymous edits.
So why, you might ask, does this account even exist? Why was it necessary to create an entire account to report instances of anonymous Wikipedia editing from Indian government IPs?
According to this report from Quartz, it’s happening all the time. Government of India IP addresses love to change Wikipedia anonymously and do so regularly. Since opening the account on August 25 of last year, Prakash’s software has typically reported multiple Wikipedia edits every day — over a thousand in less than a year.
And while most of them range from fairly innocuous, to exactly what information you would expect a government to update on Wikipedia, others not so much.
An entire range of Wikipedia edits regarding Indian entertainment, ranging from adulatory to simply bizarre, seem to originate from behind government walls. Perhaps the most interesting is the edit made on a Wikipedia article about places of worship to Shakti, to indicate that the information within is historical, not mythological.
The edits to Nehru’s Wikipedia page, however, seem uncharacteristically spiteful. It is perhaps worth noting that, as the Inquisitr has previously reported, these edits come at a time when one of Nehru’s descendants, Rahul Gandhi, is aiming to be India’s next Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the Indian congress is in an uproar, demanding an investigation into the edits on Nehru’s Wikipedia page, according to a report on Firstpost. Calling the edits a “cheap, undemocratic and gutter level tactic,” congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala demanded a full inquiry be made.
“A deliberate, sinister and malicious attempt was made…to alter the Wikipedia pages of…Jawaharlal Nehru, his father Motilal Nehru and grandfather Gangadhar by showing or attempting to show that their lineage was not ‘Kaul’ of Jammu and Kashmir but lineage… was Muslim.
“We demand a full enquiry and we want [the] Prime Minister and [the] IT Minister to answer as also lodging of a criminal case under relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code.”
AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi suspects another attempt at polarization by the party currently in office.
“The Wikipedia page editing is the most reprehensible, cheap, undemocratic and gutter level tactic… We cannot even think that in the largest democracy of the world an attempt is made to defame the first PM Pandit Nehru who was a world statesman.”
[Image courtesy of Wikipedia]