As “cyber jehadis” of Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), exploit various social media platforms (SMPs) to foment trouble in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of India, the government has identified over 500 URL (Uniform Resource Locator), and accounts on SMPs to be blocked. The ISI has also hired social media influencers in Middle East and Europe to generate trending hashtags on Twitter with an intent to malign India’s image.
Hundreds of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, generated by ISI’s cyber group, have also been traced by Indian intelligence agencies. A list of such FB pages and Twitter accounts have been forwarded by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology (MEITY). Reliable sources said that MEITY’s cyber laws and e-security group is holding meetings with representatives from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp to track and block URLs and groups active in an anti-Indian campaign and activities.
“At present, we are in a process to block over 500 URLs. The figure could be more in the coming days,” said an officer, who is part of MEITY’s cyber laws and e-security group.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has identified pages promoted at the behest of Khalistani terror outfits based in Pakistan, Hizbul Mujahideen cadre, Jaish-e-Mohammed, separatist elements active in the Valley and also few groups having linkages with the Maoists. Anti-Indian content has also been uploaded on YouTube and other video platforms. In its report, the IB has revealed that ISI’s cyber group has hired hundreds of social media influencers, most of them located in Pakistan, Middle East, South East Asia and Europe, who generate trending hashtags on Twitter and also viral content on FB.
Recently during Prime Minister Modi’s important summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tamil Nadu, disturbing anti-Indian hashtags on Twitter were generated by the ISI.
Earlier, Indian agencies had identified over 300 cyber jehadis, patronised by ISI, who targeted several Indian security personnel with an aim to honey-trap them in sex chats on FB and WhatsApp. The IB later discovered that ISI’s cyber jehadis were led by the Rana brothers, operating from an office in a posh area of Karachi. The Rana brothers, Sajid and Abid, had hired several girls to honey-trap Indian army and par military personnel over social media. A call centre operating from Pakistan’s Jhelum district, involved in honeytrap attempts, was also traced by the IB.
While Indian intelligence agencies track URLs generating anti-Indian content, officials at MEITY block such links on the internet. According to a senior government official, Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 empowers MEITY (Union Government) to block any information generated, transmitted, stored or hosted in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India. The government is also empowered to block URLs fomenting hate or inciting communal violence, affecting public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence.