Centre set to block WhatsApp calls, lodge FIRs under IT Act in J&K
JAMMU, June 11: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah today held high-level review of security situation along Pakistan and China borders in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country and decided to extend all possible facilities to the border dwellers, in addition to those already announced by Rajnath, to ensure that the people don’t suffer in the event of Pakistan shelling and firing.
The Government and the BJP said that Pakistan has been taught a lesson for its misadventures on both International Border and Line of Control (LoC) and will be given similar befitting reply in the future but they were now concerned over problems the border dwellers suffered during Pakistan shelling and firing and drafted roadmap for minimizing their problems through series of facilities for them.
Rajnath chaired the meeting in the Union capital this morning exclusively on the review of situation in border areas, which was attended among others by Amit Shah, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav and RSS leaders including Dr Krishan Gopal, Mohan Ji Bhaiyya and Arun Kumar.
Sources told the Excelsior that Narendra Modi-led Government as well as the ruling BJP were concerned over the situation along borders especially with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, where mortar shelling and firing had upset lives of the border people but the situation was normal for the past over one week.
Sources said the Union Home Minister briefed the meeting on steps already taken for welfare of the border dwellers, which he had announced during his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on June 7 and 8 and assured that once the process for construction of bunkers start, the Government would approve more bunkers to cover entire population living within the shelling and firing range of Pakistan.
The Home Ministry has decided to cover the International Border with smart fencing, which would ensure that the infiltrators are trapped on the border at any cost and killed by security forces in the gun battles. Two pilot projects of the smart fence were under construction and there was a proposal with the Centre to cover more areas soon with sophisticated fencing and gadgets to block intrusions from Pakistan.
Sources said top BJP and RSS leaders gave their suggestions on dealing with Pakistan and China and more steps the Centre Government could take to help the large population living along the International Border and Line of Control.
“A roadmap has been chalked out at the meeting to help the border people further in saving their lives and making them feel secure during Pakistan shelling and firing as there was a view that Pakistan might not mend its ways and could again violate the ceasefire agreement,” sources said.
They added that in addition to bunkers, the Centre Government has also mooted the idea for construction of “Seema Bhawans” for the border dwellers, where they could easily stay during shelling and firing. The Government also briefed that apart from increasing compensation for civilians killed in Pakistan firing from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and for dead livestock from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000, the Government has decided to raise nine police battalions for J&K, out of which four will be exclusively set up from the border area youths while in rest of the five battalions, there will be representation of 60 per cent border youths.
On China border, the Government said it was strengthening both road and rail infrastructure along Line of Actual Control (LoC) and was equipping the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) with latest gadgetry to match strength of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.
“Though the relations with China were good, few incursions take place along LAC due to un-demarcated boundary. However, they are sorted out at the local level,” sources said, adding still India was taking no chances and the process to provide best gadgetry to the ITBP and building road and rail network along LAC with China in all five States would continue.
Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba today chaired another meeting of top MHA, Information Technology, Communication and security officials to discuss measures against malicious content posted on social media by the “anti-national and anti-social elements” and steps required to counter the menace and remove such contents as early as possible to prevent the Kashmiri youth from falling into the trap of sympathizers of militants.
Top civil and police officials from Jammu and Kashmir attended the meeting as the problem of posting of malicious content on social media was being faced in Jammu and Kashmir, where Over Ground Workers of the militants were posting content to incite youth to reach sites of encounters and pelt stones on security forces and police to facilitate escape of the militants.
“The meeting discussed measures to be taken by the Law enforcement agencies to tackle security challenges posed by militants, Over Ground Workers and individuals propagating “hate campaign” on social media,” sources said, adding that a number of steps have been discussed and finalized at the meeting to check the menace.
Sources said the high-level meeting also discussed steps to enhance coordination among the Law Enforcement agencies, Department of Telecom, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and other concerned agencies to block and remove malicious content under Sections 69 and 79 of the Information Technology Act.
“The FIRs could also be registered again those indulging in campaign on social media that encourages anti-national activities,” sources said.
Sources said the Government will examine the feasibility of blocking WhatsApp calling services in Jammu and Kashmir as it has come to light that militants are using the facility to be in constant touch with their handlers sitting across the border.
The issue figured at today’s meeting.
Some of the recently arrested militants had told the Jammu and Kashmir Police that they were taking directions from across the border through WhatsApp call, sources said.
The use of Internet for making calls has increased the problems for security agencies that have been unable to crack it due to end-to-end encryption by the service provider, they said.
An example of some countries which included those from the Gulf were cited during the meeting where neither WhatsApp voice nor video calling was allowed.
The meeting also discussed steps to enhance coordination among the law enforcement agencies to block and remove ‘malicious content’ under Sections 69 (Power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource) and 79 (limited access to a communication system over which information made available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored or hosted) of the IT Act.
It was decided that law enforcement agencies will closely coordinate with Ministry of Information and Technology to ensure that the action to block the content on social media platforms is taken in a timely manner.
This will be followed by a meeting with the representatives of social media platforms for compliance, sources said.