Centre plans anti-terror cyber-push

Alarmed that an increasing number of young people are being radicalised by the Islamic State (IS) through online videos and social media groups, the Union government will come up with a “national social media policy” to counter the cyber-threat.

The policy, which follows a “blueprint” circulated by the Home Ministry to State agencies that deal with de-radicalisation, will focus on countering social media propaganda that follows any communally polarising incident in the country.

“The incident can be of any nature, it can be a communal riot, student’s unrest or even a petty fight between two communities. It can be used to invoke extreme sentiments among vulnerable people and twisted to suit a particular line of thought. Almost all the cases of recruitment of Islamic State in India have been done through the Internet and we want to be a step ahead in thwarting these attempts,” said a senior government official.

“We will see to it that positive content is pushed through social media and there is effective monitoring,” said the official.

He explained that IS recruiters begin by identifying possible candidates who ‘share’ or ‘like’ pro-IS literature, and then encourage them to share more content before trying to inveigle them into travelling to IS-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria.

During countrywide raids in January-February this year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested 25 men for links with the Islamic State.

Consequently, the government has been working closely with intelligence agencies in UAE, Syria and Turkey to try and cut off the routes for Indian nationals, with both the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Counter radicalisation, Asif Ibrahim, making repeated visits to the region.

“The most preferred route for Indians is to travel to Dubai, Saudi Arabia or Bahrain on a tourist visa and from there to Turkey. Once in Turkey, it was easier to cross over to Syria. Recently Turkey has tightened vigil along its border and deported at least six Indians in the past when they were trying to cross over to Syria,” said the official.

The official said 48 Indians have been arrested in the past two years for IS links and 25 Indians have already travelled to Syria to fight alongside the radical outfit.

“We are planning to collaborate with the online community to strengthen reporting mechanisms and complaint procedures. We are also planning to take deterrent action in specific cases against producers and circulators of radical content under penal law,” said the official.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 7:20:02 AM |

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