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Wiki entries on Nehru family edited from NIC IP?

MUMBAI: A software that tracks anonymous Wikipedia edits has found that mischievous changes were made to the entries on the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his forefathers on June 26. The revisions, which originated from a government of India IP (Internet Protocol) address, said Nehru’s grandfather Gangadhar Nehru was a Muslim.

These edits were later deleted by volunteer editors of the online encyclopedia. The discovery was broadcast by @AnonGoIWPEdits – the Twitter handle of the software that was created by Pranesh Prakash.

Prakash, policy director at Centre for Internet and Society, noted that all these edits originated from the same IP address. When the IP was verified on, it was found that it belongs to government-owned National Informatics Centre (NIC).

“All this shows is that it is an IP address provided by NIC. It doesn’t say anything more than that,” said Prakash. When asked if the user could be pinpointed, he said that it would be difficult as it isn’t clear as to who all have access to the NIC network.

The malicious edits stated, “Gangadhar was born as a Muslim by the name of Ghiasuddin Ghazi but changed his name to a Hindu Ganga Dhar to escape British clutches.”

Similar edits were made on the pages of Ganga Dhar’s son Motilal Nehru and grandson Jawaharlal. On the former PM’s page, salacious details of his “affair” with Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of India’s first governor general, Lord Mountbatten, were also added.

Although NIC computers can be hacked into, Prakash said it was highly unlikely that someone would do that to edit a Wiki entry. Spoofing an IP address again takes a lot of skill and Prakash wondered whether anyone would do that to badmouth public personalities.

Prakash started looking into anonymous edits around nine months ago after seeing similar efforts in the UK ([email protected]) and in the US (@congressedits).

“I think it is interesting to see what government people (sic) are editing anonymously,” Prakash said.

“Most edits are inane. A great number merely introduce spelling errors,” said Prakash. Once in a while, interesting edits like these happen only to be reverted by the strong Wiki community as most of these edits are without citations or attribution. “These changes were reverted in minutes, in one case in one minute,” Prakash said.


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