The YouTube channel of Bolta Hindustan – a digital news portal with about 2,98,000 subscribers – was removed from the Google-owned platform on Thursday at the behest of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Bolta Hindustan’s editor Samar Raj told Scroll that YouTube had not provided the portal with any reason for why its channel was removed. Bolta Hindustan’s website says that it was founded in 2015 “with the sole aim to serve unbiased news”.

“It is our right to know why action was taken against us,” Raj said.“But we were not given any notice or informed about which videos we posted that led the government to seek action against us.”

The correspondence addressed to Bolta Hindustan by YouTube says that its channel was taken down in compliance with directions from the information and broadcasting ministry under Rule 15 (2) of the Information Technology Rules, 2021.

Rule 15 (2) gives the power to an officer authorised by the information and broadcasting ministry to direct social media platforms to block content.

“On the one hand, the government ordered the removal of our portal without citing any reasons while on the other hand, it refuses to act against mainstream news anchors who spread hatred, despite the Supreme Court flagging it as a matter of concern,” said Raj, adding that they have written to Google and the Centre seeking to know why its YouTube channel was removed.

Raj said that the portal is considering its legal options.

Bolta Hindustan’s account on the Meta-owned plaftorm Instagram had been deleted without warning two months ago.

Several people on X, formerly Twitter, have demanded the restoration of the YouTube channel with the hashtag #RestoreBoltaHindustanYT.

Delhi-based digital rights organisation Software Freedom Law Centre said that the absence of more information about the blocking of Bolta Hindustan’s YouTube channel undermines the press and the freedoms of citizens. “Safeguarding free speech and critical voices has become crucial as the country prepares for the General Election,” the organistion said.