In a crackdown on cyber terrorists, also known as white-collar jihadis, the J&K Police believes that they are the “worst kind of terrorists”. Officials said they remain anonymous but cause an immeasurable amount of damage and brainwashing of youngsters.
According to an assessment by Director General of J&K Police, Dilbag Singh, senior army officers and officials from the security establishment, there is a fear that these white-collar jihadis could trigger a communal clash or influence some youths by manipulating news on social media while they themselves live comfortably in faraway countries.
The assessment described the battleground as new where conventional weaponry and the fighting zones of a warren of narrow streets and forests are replaced by computers and smartphones to wage war from just about anywhere – in Kashmir or outside, safe inside their homes, or out on the streets, from a nearby café or even just a convenient roadside. A senior officer termed the perpetrators as “white-collar jihadis” who mislead the youth and general population by peddling lies on social media and twisting the situation to suit the separatists or terrorist groups.
As such, the J&K Police recently arrested five suspected white-collar jihadis who were behind a campaign to spread falsehood about the sovereignty of the country. The police said the suspects were tasked with preparing a strategic hit list of government officers, journalists, social activists, lawyers and political functionaries to instill fear among people. “A cyber terrorist is actually deadlier than an actual terrorist because first, he is in hiding and second, he is absolutely unknown – unknown till you get into certain very specific details,” DGP Singh told PTI. “It is very difficult to find out those kind of details to locate them and who is actually using that particular identity in the virtual world. People have taken advantage of anonymity in the cyber world and that is why they indulge in such kinds of activities.”
Singh laid special emphasis on putting a check on cyber terrorists as he feels that they are the “worst kind of terrorists” as they are not seen but the amount of damage they do, and the amount of pollution of the mind of the youth they do are immeasurable. He believes they are the people who are responsible for recruitment, they are the ones who would make some sort of comments and statements on social media which would create a communal wedge between various communities, between Hindus and Muslims and others.
“Therefore, taking care of them and hitting them is very, very important so we are working on that front and achieved some success in some areas. More work and more focused work is needed. We will continue to do whatever is needed in this regard,” Singh said.
However, senior officials in the security establishment say that it takes a long time to trace white-collar jihadis. “It is like finding a needle in a hay sack. Millions of people are on social media networking sites and it is too difficult to locate that one person,” an official said. The J&K Police has started registration of private citizens as volunteers to police the internet and report suspected cybercrimes to the government.