Rawat moots separate DG IW to counter militant campaign in J&K

‘Will check militancy, stone pelting’
Army to defend jawans fighting AFSPA

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 4: In another attempt to counter ‘pro-militant’ and ‘pro-Pakistan’ propaganda on social media, which was being used by several militant outfits to incite youth towards militancy and stone pelting, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat today mooted setting up of Directorate General of Information Warfare (DGIW), an independent unit within the Army Headquarters to effectively counter the campaign and save the Kashmiri youth from falling into the trap of ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-social forces’.
“Army is working on creation of a new body as social media is going to stay. We can use it to our advantage. Our adversary has been using it (social media) for proxy war and militancy. In view of this, we need to have an organization to counter the campaign,” Gen Rawat said in New Delhi, adding the Directorate General of Information Warfare can be an amalgamate within the existing resources to counter campaign of militancy online.
The new Unit, he added, will become part and parcel of the Army.
Sources told the Excelsior that the proposed Directorate General of Information Warfare could be headed by an officer of the rank of Lieutenant General or Major General and it would be a full-fledged unit country wide with major focus on Jammu and Kashmir to counter the campaign of Pakistan and its sponsored militant outfits.
Gen Rawat said social media can be leveraged for psychological warfare and deception not just in conventional warfare, but also in combating proxy war, insurgency and terrorism.
“For doing this, we need to have an organization in place at all levels. It is in the backdrop of this, we have undertaken a study in the Army headquarters for restructuring the headquarters within. How do we then ensure that the social media platform becomes an important adjunct of our information warfare strategy,” he asserted.
Sources said Army have identified four main militant outfits including Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Hizbul Mujahideen and Ansar-Gazbat-ul-Hind, which have been using social media at very alarming level to lure youth into militancy and stone pelting. Apart, Pakistan has also been running some accounts on Facebook and Groups on WhatsApp to misguide the Kashmiri youth.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, Cyber Cell, had already blocked some of the Facebook Pages and WhatsApp accounts, which were being run from Pakistan by the militant outfits and their supporters.
“It has become important to have full-fledged Directorate to counter Pakistan and its sponsored militants’ campaign on social media against India, security forces and administration and educate the youth about ground realities including the harms of taking to militancy and stone pelting, which will ruin their career,” sources said, adding it was in this context that the separate Directorate General of Information Warfare has been mooted.
Sources said the Army proposed to launch massive offensive against social media campaign of the militants and their Over Ground Workers (OGWs) in Jammu and Kashmir especially to Valley to wean away the youth from joining militancy and resorting to stone pelting. It hoped that the campaign would bring desired results and youth will divert to other works instead of joining militancy. It may be mentioned here that some youth were reported to have joined militancy recently on being lured through social media campaign.
Gen Rawat also said the Army will fully back the Army personnel from Jammu and Kashmir and North East, who have approached the Supreme Court for cases registered against them in the areas where Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was in force.
“The armed forces and the Government, the Defence Ministry and everybody are steadfast behind all the officers who have conducted operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the north east or anywhere we are countering terrorism or insurgency,” he said.
Rawat said the Army will support them in whatever way it can.
Gen Rawat said the Army personnel can’t be denied the use of smart phones.
He said a study was being undertaken for the restructuring of the Army headquarters as an organization was needed in place at all levels for leveraging social media.
Referring to a Mobile App designed for the welfare of soldiers and officers, Gen Rawat said if applications are being created for them then how can they be denied the use of smart phones.
The Army chief said if the armed forces don’t keep pace with time and the manner in which the social media is moving forward then it will be “fire-fighting” to keep up with time.
“We can amalgamate some of our existing resources and ensure that social media becomes a part and parcel of our life in the Army.” Rawat said.
Armed forces personnel are not encouraged to use smart phones because of the sensitivity of their job.
Referring to this, Gen Rawat said if the usage of smart phones cannot be prevented then at least the individual should be taught how to use it in the right manner.
“If you want to bring some discipline, then you (should) have the means of imposing that discipline. In case, there is no means to impose that discipline, then it is of no use passing order and instructions which can be implemented,” he said.
The Army, Rawat said, is developing a mobile application Arpaan to benefit the soldiers, the officers the JCOs and their families in reaching out to various fora and coming out with their problems and seeking answers to it.
“If we are creating our own Apps then how can we deny the usage of smart phones to our soldiers? Smart phones are here to stay. We must learn to utilize them to our advantage,” he said.
The Army chief said any case of moral turpitude and corruption will be dealt with sternly. He was referring to Major Leetul Gogoi, who was found guilty of “fraternizing” with a local woman at a Srinagar hotel.
Gen Rawat said action will be taken against Maj Gogoi according to his guilt.
“I had clearly said that any case of moral turpitude and corruption will be dealt with in a very stern manner. The Court of Inquiry has recommended that we should go in for court martial proceedings.
“If it is related to moral turpitude, then we will take action accordingly. If it is something else, the punishment will be (according) to the crime he has committed,” Gen Rawat said.