The live broadcast of a popular online news channel in Assam was swapped with the image of a Pakistani flag, a hymn for Prophet Muhammad and tickers reading ‘Respect Holy Prophet’ in a cyberattack this week that appeared linked to the outcry over remarks by former BJP spokespersons about the Prophet.
A Pakistan-based hacking group ‘Revolution PK’ has been blamed for the cyberattack on the YouTube account of Time8, which is a digital news network based out of Assam with more than 7 million followers on different social media platforms and average monthly video views of over 600 million.
On June 9, during a live news stream, Time8’s transmission was interrupted during a breaking news segment.
Utpal Kanta, founder and managing editor of Time8 Digital News Network, said, “The self-claimed Pakistani hacker group, Revolution PK, briefly hacked Time8 YouTube channel during the live stream and replaced the news broadcast with the Pakistani flag and ran ‘Respect Holy Prophet’ tickers. This is an act of cyberterrorism, and we condemn the incident in the strongest words and also express our concern over the matter, which relates to national security.”
“It was found that hackers not only intended to illegally express their religious views on the channel but also intended to defame the channel and India as they leaked the hacked part of videos on Twitter and Facebook and Pakistani Twitter users expressed their joy by tweeting in favour of Revolution PK and lauding them for hacking our channel TIME8,” Mr Kanta said.
Time8 said the network has alerted authorities and filed a complaint with the Guwahati police. The complaint is currently being investigated.
Former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and another leader, Naveen Kumar Jindal, had triggered a major backlash over their controversial comments last month about the Prophet that also angered several Muslim countries.
While Ms Sharma was suspended for six months, Mr Jindal was expelled by the BJP over the remarks. The Indian government said the comments, which came from two spokespersons of India’s ruling party, represented views of “fringe elements”.
Protests and clashes have taken place in several cities across India against the remarks.