September 2018 News

Social Networking Platforms A Boon For Terror Outfits In Kashmir?

16 September 2018
Republic World
Tejinder Singh Sodhi

Mumbai: On September 7, a picture surfaced on social media showing a masked undercover officer of the Jammu and Kashmir police arresting a stone pelter in the old town of Srinagar city, within minutes the picture went viral on social media with terror outfits asking its followers to identify the masked undercover police officer. It took only a few hours before the identity of the undercover police officer was revealed and he started getting threatening messages on social media, saying that he along with his family would be eliminated. Off late, the terror outfits operative in the Kashmir valley have understood the mis(use) of social media and they are exploiting it to the fullest to serve their purpose. 'The dreaded terrorist Burhan Wani who was eliminated in 2016 had become a poster boy of terrorism in the Kashmir valley due to social media,' a senior police officer said without being named, as he was not authorized to speak on the issue. He said that it took the security agencies a bit longer to understand how terrorists were misusing social media to instigate youth by sending across their message. 'The security agencies realized this and deployed counter-measures, but you have to accept that social media is a vast field and if you put a check on one platform the other pops up' the officer said. Though the security agencies continue to deploy countermeasures, misuse of social media has become a 'cat and mouse game' where both try to remain a step ahead. During the Omar Abdullah led NC Congress government in the state Short Message Service (SMS) on mobile networks were restricted, but the terror supporters found various others means to send across the message, hence the ban proved to be a failure. Even as security agencies get the mobile Internet services barred at the sites of encounter, the stone pelting youth is mobilized from the areas where Internet service is working. Social media platforms are being used to mobilize stone pelting mob during encounters to help the trapped terrorists to escape, pre-recorded messages are circulated to mobilize the stone pelting mob. Security agencies are also aware of the fact that terrorists now use voice calling facilities on the social networking sites so as to avoid detection. 'Until and unless you keep a check on social networking sites, these things will continue to happen. There is a dire need to check social networking sites in the valley as they are being misused by the terrorist outfits and their handlers,' Kuldeep Khoda former Director General of JK Police told Republic. Last month when the terrorists kidnapped family members of 11 policemen in Kashmir, they used social media to send their recorded messages. With the penetration of mobile Internet in every nook and corner of the valley, terrorist are using mobile internet service to operate several social networking platforms to send across their message. 'They also misuse social networking platforms to recruit more youth to join the terror outfits. Security agencies continue to devise strategies to stay a step ahead from these terrorists' a security force officer said.