New Delhi: In an effort to foil communication between terrorists and their contacts in turbulent areas - especially ones hit by insurgency like Jammu and Kashmir - the government has turned its attention to WhatsApp. The Home Ministry is exploring if and how it can tactically block WhatsApp calling services in these areas to prevent terrorists getting information from their handlers, sources said.
Officials in the Home Ministry said it has been brought to their notice that many times when encounters are going on, terrorists use the calling feature on WhatsApp to contact their associates and even handlers sitting across the border.
The issue was discussed threadbare during a meeting held in North Block on Monday. The meeting was chaired by union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
"WhatsApp calling and messaging have now become the preferred medium of communication for anti-national forces and we are right now clueless about keeping a tab on it. We need a policy where, when it comes to national security, these apps will be forced to share information with the security agencies," an officer told NDTV.
According to him, these days many apps use end-to-end encryption which means if even authorities manage to intercept all the data traffic, they then face the challenge of cracking the encryption first to retrieve any information.
Officials in the security apparatus told NDTV that it was very important for the Ministry of Telecom, in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs to devise a policy urgently under which a communication medium like WhatsApp, which is headquartered in another country, comes under the purview of Indian laws.
The Home Ministry is particularly worried about it as recent arrests in various terror-related cases show that terrorists seek directions from their handlers from across the border.
In Jammu and Kashmir's Nagrota, after an army camp was attacked in 2016, Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists arrested by the National Investigation Agency revealed that they were sought directions from across the border through a WhatsApp call.
Seven army men were killed in the terror attack.
The NIA recently took custody of the three people arrested by the state police for their alleged involvement in helping the terrorists which included ferrying them from the border and guiding them to the army camp.