The Jammu and Kashmir Police has a new task at hand — identify “keypad jihadis” who spread hate on social networking sites to try and provoke violence and unrest in the state by spreading rumours or communal strife on the internet.
The police have registered cases against five Twitter handles and filed complaints with service providers against such misleading posts on Facebook and WhatsApp so that necessary action is taken at the earliest, officials have said.
The officials said a communication had been sent to the micro-blogging site for providing details of the Twitter handles so that punitive action could be initiated at the earliest as it would help in reining in what they call ‘keypad jihadis’.
The police have laid special emphasis on monitoring the social networking websites and also various groups created on messaging services like WhatsApp, Telegram, and similar tools available on the internet, they said.
The idea behind the crackdown on ‘keypad jihadis’ was to ensure that police could concentrate more on arresting or eliminating terrorists with real guns rather than those who wage war against the state machinery using keypads.
The officials said that post-2016, the misinformation campaign from some groups in Kashmir as well as in Jammu was at its peak with each party trying to project an incident for their political goals which had a potential of pushing the state to communal clashes.
The New Battleground
They said the new battleground and a new battle is far removed from the conventional weaponry and the conventional fighting zones of the narrow streets and forests where new age ‘jihadis’ use computers and smartphones to wage war from just about anywhere in the Valley or outside, well entrenched inside their homes or out on the streets, from a nearby caf or even just a convenient roadside.
“We have passed on several complaints to the Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-IN) for blocking several pages on Facebook and Twitter,” said officials, adding that many SIM cards which were used to spread canards on messaging services like WhatsApp have been blocked with the help of the service providers.
The worry for Amarnath Yatra
The immediate worry for security agencies is the forthcoming two-month-long Amarnath Yatra, beginning last week of next month, and they fear that anyone, while just sitting from the confines of a home, can plant fake news in one of the thousand chat groups and the entire state can plunge into communal violence, the officials said.
There have been instances when fake pictures of desecration of shrines are circulated by a particular community and all of sudden there is an outrage when no such incident had taken place.
Similarly, in the Valley, false news about firing and subsequent killing of civilians was circulated in an attempt to create unrest in other parts of Kashmir. However, timely action saved the day for the police and it was ensured that the culprits were charged.
27 May 2018/Sunday Written by Mohd Tahir Shafi