Cyberspace: NE states to track hate-mongers

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GUWAHATI, June 17: A series of violent incidents triggered by rumour-mongering in cyberspace has made the law-enforcement machineries in the Northeast focus on social media. There is a feeling that vigorous, round-the-clock patrolling of cyberspace is the only way out to tackle the menace.
Shillong was on the edge recently following a clash between Khasi tribesmen and migrant Dalit Sikhs. In Assam, two young men were lynched in Karbi Anglong on the suspicion of being child abductors. In both cases, social media was believed to be the culprit.
Nagaland DGP Rupin Sharma feels monitoring of cyberspace alone cannot prevent such incidents. “You can keep a hawk’s eye on all social networking sites but not WhatsApp. And, it is through WhatsApp that rumours are mostly circulated. So, I feel the only way out is we have to reach out to people. A large number of my officers are members of WhatsApp groups. This is helping them to keep tab on rumour-mongering,” Sharma told The Sunday Standard.
Recently, tempers were frayed in Nagaland over a video and audio clip showing a woman being hacked to death. Unidentified persons, who shared the clip, claimed the woman from Nagaland was killed in Rajasthan.
“As soon as we learnt about the video, we carried out an investigation. It revealed the video was of a woman in Brazil. We immediately put the information on our social networking sites,” Sharma said. “I am a member of 25- 30 local WhatsApp groups. I am everywhere, on Facebook, Twitter etc. I myself monitor social media regularly. Everybody knows how to reach out to me,” he added.
Former Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay says there will always be elements which will misuse technology. “It is being used by radicals for indoctrinating people, spreading their agenda and for recruiting people. Even the other extremists are using it. The large part of the internet is known as the dark net or dark web. We are not aware what is happening there.”
He insisted that the law-enforcement machinery has to catch up fast to pre-empt, prevent and punish people misusing social media. “As you physically patrol the streets, you have to patrol the social media. One big problem is that in cyberspace, there is no boundary or jurisdiction and most of the social media platforms are run from abroad,” he pointed out.
In the Shillong incident, the issue was amicably resolved. However, rumours circulated through social media triggering an outrage. Angry locals virtually held the picturesque city to ransom for a few days.
In Karbi Anglong, rumours over child traffickers were spread across villages through social media. A criminal, who had a tiff with the victims, took advantage of the existing panic among locals. He instigated them by saying that the duo was child abductors. (NIE)