‘Around 200 VPN users accessing Facebook, Twitter identified. Only 5-10 pc use VPNs for ‘political purpose’, 90-95 pc for PUBG’
SPECIAL REPORT / ANCHOR
JAMMU: Even as the telecommunication companies and internet service providers have failed to come up with effective firewalls to prevent misuse of social media in Kashmir valley, the Jammu and Kashmir on Monday decided to launch a major crackdown with registration of FIRs and arrest of the accused under sections of stringent laws. Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to STATE TIMES that among the service providers, only Airtel had succeeded to create a firewall that was, to some extent effective, to prevent uploading and downloading of content through virtual private networks (VPNs). “Airtel’s engineers are further working on the firewall and we are satisfied with their response and cooperation. However, we are extremely disappointed by the government-owned BSNL. Maximum of misuse is being done through BSNL. They haven’t been able to even provide broadband services to the landline phone users in valley, even as it has been done in Jammu”, said a senior Police official. Officials clarified that only 5 to 10 per cent of the VPN users were using social media for posting and uploading “political content”, while maintaining that 90 to 95 per cent of the youths, using VPN in Kashmir were running only PUBG and other games on their smartphones. “As of now, it’s the government’s decision to ignore the PUBG users but tough action would be taken against others who are posting seditious and incendiary content and trying to create disturbance, particularly around the US President Trump’s first visit to India later this month”, said an officer. Officials said that Cyber Cell of J&K Police had been directed to keep strict vigil on all social media users and report anybody misusing the internet in violation of law and a government order dated 14 January 2020. Most of the internet users have been noticed using Wolf, Let’s VPN and UFO. “These keep on changing as VPNs in thousands are in uncontrolled circulation. It’s a little easy to catch those using free VPNs but difficult to strike on those who are using paid ones. Our service providers have very low quality firewalls. We have made it clear to them that if they fail to put in place strong high quality firewalls, we could shut some of their services”, said an officer. The officer said that the first FIR had been registered against the internet misusers today. “Soon we will be detaining such elements under ULA (Prevention) Act and IT Act and send them to different jails outside J&K. We are also considering their detention under PSA”, he said. Officials said that Police had begun a manhunt for a Twitter user whose handle is running in the name of Kamran Manzoor. He has reportedly uploaded and circulated a video clip showing separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani wishing his “martyrdom and burial at Martyrs Graveyard” in Srinagar and asking people to gather there in case of his death. Officials said that last evening Police swooped on the residence of a local journalist, Kamran Yousuf, in Pulwama but let him off after learning in three-hour-long questioning that he had not posted the objectionable video. Kamran Yousuf had been arrested by NIA in 2017 on the allegation of encouraging crowds of stone pelters in Pulwama. However, he had been subsequently released. Kashmir Press Club today issued a statement referring to his second questioning by Police and complaining that the local mediapersons were facing threats, arrests and humiliation after 5 August last year. Police are reportedly looking for Kamran Khursheed and Kamran Manzoor in Pulwama and Shopian districts. Meanwhile a Police spokesperson said in a press release that the Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone Srinagar had registered a Case FIR against various social media users who defied the Government orders and misused the social media platforms. Pertinent to mention that J&K UT Government has issued an order vide Government Order No Home-03 (TSTS) of 2020 dated 14.01.2020, banning all social media sites to curb the misuse of the sites by miscreants for propagating false information/rumours. The ban was ordered to stall the rumour mongering and spreading false and fake facts having the effect of causing social instability.
“There have been continuous reports of misuse of Social media sites by the miscreants to propagate the secessionist ideology and to promote unlawful activities. Social media has remained a favourite tool which largely provides anonymity to the user and also gives wide reach. The FIR has been registered while taking cognizance of the social media posts by the miscreants by use of different VPNs, which are propagating rumours with regard to the current security scenario of the Kashmir valley, propagating secessionist ideology and glorifying terror acts/ terrorists”, said the Police press release.
“Lot of incriminating material has also been seized in this regard. This is the first FIR registered in Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone Srinagar since its notification by the Government. The case is registered under FIR No. 01 of 2020 under Section 13 U A (P) Act, 188, 505 of IPC and 66-A (b) of IT Act. Currently cyber police station is headed by Superintendent of police Shri Tahir Ashraf-JKPS”, it added.
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