Terror modules operating within Jammu and Kashmir and their handlers from across the border incite people by transmission of fake news, the UT administration has told the Supreme Court while opposing restoration of 4G services in the Union Territory.
It said there were well-founded apprehensions of misuse of internet for propagation of terror activities and incitement through the circulation of inflammatory material — particularly fake videos and photos as also co-ordination of activities that are inimical to security and public order.
“The terror modules operating within the UTs and handlers from across the border aid and incite people by transmission of fake news and targeted messages through use of internet to propagate terrorism, co-ordinate and plan terror attacks,” an affidavit filed by the UT’s administration said.
The submissions were made in response to a plea filed by Foundation for Media Professionals seeking restoration of 4G internet services in the Union Territory in view of prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Pakistan-based terrorism handlers like The Resistance Front (TRF) and Tehreeki-Milat-i-Islami (TMI), instigating youth to join terrorism, are using messaging applications to communicate as also to raise the morale of terrorists; however 2G mobile data services considerably restrict the use of such Applications,” the affidavit said.
Restoration of 4G mobile data services will substantially increase the use of social media and other online platforms in uploading/downloading of videos and other propaganda material and their faster circulation, deteriorating the law and order situation in Kashmir Valley, it said.
The internet is being used to support fallacious proxy wars by raising money, recruiting and spreading propaganda/ideologies and prevalence of the internet provides an easy inroad to young impressionable minds, J&K said.
It said that till April 25, 108 terrorism-related incidents took place with 99 Incidents reported from the Kashmir Province while 9 others from Jammu province. .
“30 civilians lost their lives, while 114 civilians were injured in terrorist-related incidents“.
The affidavit said that even the top court has not been spared of the ill effects of habitual fake news propaganda which took place very recently involving a fake order purporting to be a Record of Proceeding of this court. It had falsely reflected that administration of J&K has been ordered to take a quick review within 24 hours to restore full internet communication in the region.
It said that an FIR under sections 465 (forgery), 466 (forgery of court record) and 471 (using forged document as genuine) of the IPC was filed in this regard at the Cyber Police Station, Kashmir Zone.
It said that umpteen rumours relating to number of positive COVID-19 cases/deaths, creating chaos and panic; health-related fake news of prominent people in Jammu & Kashmir like that of Chairman, All Party Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, shutdown call by JKLF on the eve of death anniversary of Mohd. Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru, to observe Republic Day as black day have been doing the rounds.
The J&K administration told the apex court that a very reasonable quantum of restrictions have been imposed by reducing the speed of internet to protect the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.
The dispensation told the top court that even when internet services were restored only with white-listed URLs, it was found that miscreants were using different VPNs but because of low speed mobile data services, were not able to upload files of heavy data containing incriminating and other objectionable videos.